Paul Kershaw is a professor at the University of British Columbia and founder of Generation Squeeze. (Generation Squeeze/Facebook)

ELECTION NIGHT: Pitt Meadows prof weighs in on tight fight

Election night results are coming in now, but here’s a perspective from a UBC professor ahead of time

The presence of the country’s political leaders in British Columbia the day before the 2019 federal vote could speak volumes to the significant role this province is expected to play in deciding this election.

This according Paul Kershaw, a Pitt Meadows resident, a University of British Columbia professor, and the founder and lead researcher of Generation Squeeze, a national education and advocacy organization for Canadians from their 20s to 40s.

“I can’t remember when I’ve seen the leaders of the four big parties all spend their last day in B.C.,” Kershaw said the day before the election.

B.C. has 42 ridings, and 42 seats account for just more than 12 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons.

Black Press Media’s polling analyst Bruce Cameron has flagged the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge riding as one to watch.

Liberal incumbent Dan Ruimy won his seat in the 2015 election by only 1,300 votes, according to Cameron, beating out the Tories. The polling expert says loyalties in the riding have since shifted as Bob D’Eith, the NDP candidate in 2015, is now the area’s MLA and former B.C. Liberal MLA Marc Dalton is running for the Conservatives.

READ MORE: Spotlight on B.C.: 12 races to watch on Election Day

Although there was a significant turnout during advance polling this election, Kershaw didn’t cast his ballot over the long-weekend because he was waiting to see how close the parties sat in the polls before election day, and could then adapt a voting plan accordingly.

“I think uncertainty [of voters] reflects the tension that exists in our first-past-the-post voting system, which allows parties that receive a minority (around 39 per cent) of the vote to get a majority government, and therefore 100 per of the power to govern,” he said.

“However, in this election, the two leading parties have generally been stuck around no more than 33 per cent of the vote. This means that neither party will get a majority government, and there will need to be some kind of cooperation between one of the big two parties with either the NDP, Greens or Bloq Quebecois.”

Meanwhile, Kershaw anticipates voter turnout among younger Canadians will continued to rise by comparison with recent federal elections; however, he also anticipates the turnout will continue to be higher among seniors than among younger Canadians.

“I hope some day that I no longer anticipate this age gap in turnout going into an election … We know that one major barrier to casting a vote is that people often say they find it hard to judge what are the important differences between parties, which then makes them think it doesn’t matter who they vote for,” he said.

“And if that doesn’t matter, then people risk judging that it doesn’t matter if they vote at all.”

READ MORE: Federal election: Six in race for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge riding

But Kershaw emphasizes the importance of casting a ballot even if a candidate has small chance of winning because parties respond to voter turnout in future elections.

“Politics responds to those who organize and show up,” he said. “For example, when younger Canadians show up less often at the ballot box by comparison with other age groups, then parties are less likely to prioritize issues that matter disproportionately for younger Canadians, including housing affordability, family affordability and climate change.”

These issues are ones that have dominated this election.

“From the beginning of the campaign, parties have focused on affordability and climate change.”

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