The BC Marijuana Party took about 52,000 votes in British Columbia’s May 16 provincial election, getting 3.5% of the overall vote. Although not nearly enough to win any seats, the party did have a major impact upon the debate, and has set itself up as a significant new voice in BC’s political spectrum.
The BC Marijuana Party made it into the Elections BC archives as the first modern party to run a complete slate of candidates in their first election. People in every single one of BC’s 79 ridings had the chance to vote for the BC Marijuana Party. Of the five main parties in the election, only the NDP and Liberals also ran full slates. Both the BC Green and Unity parties were unable to find candidates for many areas.
Most BC Marijuana Party candidates received between 400-800 votes in their ridings, out of about 18-20,000 cast. A few candidates broke the 1,000 vote mark. The top vote percentage was received by candidate Paul Renaud, who took 9.4% of the vote in the riding of Peace River North.
The BC Marijuana Party adopted a broader platform than it’s federal Canadian counterpart, promoting an ideology of personal freedom and less government interference in our daily lives.
It was a hard-fought campaign, especially in regards to getting recognition from provincial media. Party Leader Brian Taylor, past Mayor of Grand Forks, was excluded from the only televised all-parties leaders debate, even though the Green and Unity parties were both invited. The party was also excluded from a “student votes” exercise, where students in schools all across BC were given the opportunity to vote for the party of their choice. The BC Marijuana Party still received 10% of the student vote, from students who were brave enough to actually write the party name on the ballot.
“Now our plan is to open constituency offices across the province,” said Marc Emery, Party President. “These locations should act as retail stores, selling books, pipes and hemp products, as well as becoming headquarters for compassion clubs and other activist projects.”
The BC Marijuana Party intends on running candidates in future municipal elections, by-elections, and the next BC provincial election in 2005.
An in-depth article on the BC Marijuana Party, including profiles of some candidates, will appear in Cannabis Culture #33.