Election results suggest Christy Clark misread popularity of Uber

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      Call it the revolt of the Lower Mainland taxi drivers.

      In constituency after constituency with a high number of South Asian voters, the B.C. Liberals went down to defeat on Tuesday (May 9).

      In Surrey-Fleetwood, the NDP's Jagrup Brar trounced the minister responsible for TransLink, Peter Fassbender.

      Vancouver-Fraserview saw another cabinet minister defeated as the NDP's George Chow demolished Suzanne Anton.

      The NDP's Rachna Singh waltzed to an easy victory in Surrey–Green Timbers, piling up 58.2 percent of the vote.

      Peter Fassbender thought ride-sharing was a good idea but it clearly didn't impress the voters in Surrey-Fleetwood.

      Harry Bains, as expected, won easily in Surrey-Newton.

      And in Surrey-Guildford, another cabinet minister, Amrik Virk, was handily defeated by the NDP's Garry Begg.

      The NDP's Jinny Sims won in Surrey-Panorama, which wasn't completely expected, and John Horgan's friend, Ravi Kahlon, knocked off a B.C. Liberal incumbent in Delta North.

      The B.C. Liberals were also crushed in Burnaby and New Westminster. Even though they won in Richmond-Queensborough, it was not by as high a margin as they probably hoped.

      Rachna Singh was one of several NDP candidates of Indian ancestry who cruised to victory on Tuesday.

      There were lots of reasons for this, including:

      • the NDP had an exceptionally strong slate of candidates of South Asian ancestry;

      • the NDP's message of making life more affordable, scrapping road tolls, and increasing the minimum wage resonated with voters of South Asian ancestry;

      • and the NDP promised to restore the B.C. Human Rights Commission just as we're seeing racism increase in the wake of Donald Trump's rise to the U.S. presidency.

      But one other factor could have also persuaded some voters of South Asian ancestry to reject the B.C. Liberals. And that was their promise to introduce ride-sharing services like Uber by December, which would hurt the taxi industry.

      George Chow (right) showed his solidarity with the Sikh community at Vaisakhi.
      Charlie Smith

      Most taxi licences are held by people of South Asian ancestry and the vast majority of drivers trace their roots back to the Indian state of Punjab.

      Fassbender was the chief government salesperson of this idea. He ended up with less than 36 percent of the vote in his constituency.

      The B.C. Liberals naively assumed that by backing ride-sharing, they were going to win the support of millennials. Most of them despise the party for its refusal to take climate change seriously and for presiding over the biggest housing-price increases in provincial history.

      In the B.C. Liberals' imaginations, they might have even thought that their Uber promise would help them defeat David Eby in Vancouver–Point Grey or George Heyman in Vancouver–Fairview.

      Eby won his seat by 4,765 votes and Heyman won by 5,476 votes. These two constituencies used to be held by B.C. Liberals before Christy Clark returned to provincial politics. They show how far the party's popularity has fallen in Vancouver.

      At the risk of sounding flippant, the B.C. Liberals' ride-sharing promise appears to have been an uber miscalculation. And it cost them big time in this election.