Liberals are looking at the Maple Ridge-Mission riding as a key battleground as they head into the Oct. 24 provincial election, says would-be candidate Chelsa Meadus.
First-term MLA Bob D’Eith took the riding in the 2017 provincial election after it had been dominated by the BC Liberals for decades. D’Eith ended an eight-year run by Liberal Marc Dalton, beating him by a slim margin of 10,989 votes to 10,664.
That tight race gives Chelsa Meadus hope the Liberal Party can retake the riding. Both she and Onyeke Dozie have put their names forward for the Liberal nomination, but the party has not yet held a vote to choose their candidate.
“We have a lot of work to do,” allowed Meadus.
The first-term Maple Ridge city councillor questioned the wisdom of John Horgan calling an election on Monday, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Will they [voters] participate, or will they stay home?” she asked, and added that traditional door knocking by political parties might be a poor strategy during a time of social distancing.
“We will have to be innovative, and reach people in a different way.”
For her, this election is about health care, the new infrastructure needed in Maple Ridge and Mission, community engagement in the political process, and the suffering economy. Each party will have to show their plan to stimulate the economy, she said.
“What does a re-start plan look like, and which one can people bite into,” she asked.
D’Eith defended his party’s snap election call, saying there needs to be more stability in government than the present minority government situation.
He said listening to Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, there is no end to COVID-19 in the near future.
“We’re not in the middle of the pandemic, we’re at the beginning of the pandemic,” said D’Eith, adding the election would happen during the Coronavirus outbreak, whether this year or next.
He said Elections BC had been planning for a COVID-19 election “No matter when it was called.”
For D’Eith, this election is about judging what the NDP government has done so far, and whether to give them a stronger mandate for four more years.
“I’m looking forward to the people of Maple Ridge-Mission having a chance to vote – look at our government and what we’ve done, and make a decision about the future.”
Dozie, who ran for Maple Ridge council in 2018 but did not win a seat, announced his candidacy last month.
“My decision to run was made following series of consultation with family and friends. From those discussions, I found an underlying need to address the persistent issues of homelessness, substance abuse, mental health, and affordable housing,” he said at the time.
“The issues we face are many and strong, and so must be our solution to them. We need to work together to overcome them. To achieve this, we need someone with the ability to reach out to the next person and build a consensus around our common vision and hope for a better future.
“The Green Party’s Peter Tam finished a distant third in 2017, garnering 3,464 votes. The Maple Ridge musician said he will not be running in the coming election, but will help the party to put forward a new candidate for the riding. He expects an announcement in about a week.
“I was hoping they wouldn’t call it,” he said. “It’s not a good time. We have a pandemic going. People are preoccupied with other things.”
“The NDP are ahead in the polls, so they are calling it just to secure themselves,” Tam added. “It may backfire on the NDP. A whole lot of people are just not ready to deal with an election.”