MLAs Marc Dalton and Doug Bing prepare for the housing announcement in Maple Ridge on Friday.

MLAs Marc Dalton and Doug Bing prepare for the housing announcement in Maple Ridge on Friday.

Sidewinder: Maintain vigour of democracy

Is there an election in the offing in Maple Ridge? Hard to tell

The May 9 provincial election lies just ahead of us and yet we seem almost oblivious to its looming presence.

Where are all the candidates? Where are all the campaign headquarters? It’s almost unbelievable that everything is so low key with only a few, short months to go.

Have we all been paralyzed by the overabundance of emotional campaigning and political rhetoric of the recent United States federal elections? I’m sure that the lack of visible and audible campaigns is simply the calm before the storm and that we’re about to be inundated with hours of endless speeches and repetitive newspaper, radio and television ads.

Notwithstanding our desire to avoid all the noise and visual pollution of the coming campaigns, let’s hope that we can do better than the lousy voter turnout in the United States federal elections, in which almost half of the eligible voters stayed home and sat on their collective hands. This seeming lack of concern in one of the most vicious political campaigns in the history of the United States resulted in the election of a president who, since his inauguration, has incurred the wrath of hundreds of millions of people around the world. He created this widespread hatred and distrust by simply doing many of the terrible things he promised throughout the campaign. It seems too many people weren’t listening and now the world is going to pay the price for at least the next four years.

Our provincial election is going to be a heated affair and will be fought mainly between Christy Clark’s Liberals and John Horgan’s NDP. The Green Party and the lacklustre B.C. Conservative Party will not likely exceed their usual also-ran status, with the exception of Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, who should be re-elected.

The greatest struggle, as it has been for the past couple of decades, will be which party, the Liberals or the NDP, can attract enough voters to form the next government.

With a variety of policy issues separating the two main parties, voters will have to consider whether B.C. will continue to rely on resource-based industries promoted by Clark or turn to the confusing stance of Horgan and what appears to be a flip-flop by the NDP leader on major issues such as the Kinder-Morgan pipeline project.

Horgan has also recently indicated a probable hike in carbon taxes under an NDP government.

While the outcome in many Lower Mainland ridings could be close, the NDP’s anti-resource-based job creation policies will hurt the socialists in many Interior ridings.

Vancouver Island will remain an NDP stronghold, with Weaver the only candidate who is likely to stem the NDP tide on the Island by retaining his Oak Bay– Gordon Head seat.

Despite all the NDP claims of Clark running the province into the ground, B.C.’s economy still ranks near the top of all Canadian provinces, and that will become more abundantly clear as the campaign gets into full swing.

If there are any flies in the Liberal campaign ointment, they eliminated one on Tuesday by cutting in half MSP premiums.

The 50-per-cent reduction in MSP rates will take effect Jan. 1, 2018 for families with a net income of up to $120,000. That is expected to save families up to $900 per year and individuals up to $450 per year.

Local MLAs Marc Dalton and Doug Bing made a handful of funding announcements regarding homelessness in Maple Ridge last week, and were expected to make another major announcement this Friday.

How local candidates will fare in the coming weeks will depend largely on how successful they have been at organizing their campaigns and attracting volunteers and how successful they are at getting out their supporters on election day.

No matter which party emerges victorious on May 9, let’s hope the voter turnout reflects our desire to maintain the health and vigour of our democracy.

 

Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.