There’s less than a year left before British Columbians go to the polls to elect a new government or to re-elect the incumbent Christy Clark Liberals.
Much like the 2013 election, the polls show Clark’s support might be lagging, but that doesn’t mean too much.
In 2013, the NDP, led by Adrian Dix, ran an awkward and poorly planned campaign.
Under their new leader, John Horgan, the NDP will likely run a smarter campaign.
But times have changed and that won’t guarantee them much better results next May.
Locally, incumbent Liberal MLAs Doug Bing and Marc Dalton are planning energetic campaigns and could actually increase their support. If there are any flies in the local ointment, it will be the unknown impact of Dalton’s unsuccessful bid to seek a Conservative nomination in last fall’s federal election.
If his history means anything, Dalton’s political aspirations have always leaned towards the federal Conservatives, a factor which might not endear him to local voters.
It is also believed that many key players in Dalton’s last provincial campaign will be working for Bing in the coming provincial election. That kind of expertise and knowledge are hard to replace.
In both local ridings, the NDP candidates came close to upsetting the Liberals in 2013.
Mike Bocking, a perennial NDP candidate, finished about 1,400 votes behind Dalton, and Elizabeth Rosenau finished less than 700 votes behind Bing. The turnout of eligible voters in both ridings was less than 60 per cent.
In Dalton’s riding, Green Party candidate, Alex Pope, garnered more than eight per cent of the popular vote in 2013. This time around, Peter Tam will likely carry the Green Party banner in Dalton’s riding.
At this point, it appears that the Greens might be preparing to throw all of their local support behind Tam as many view Dalton as an easier target.
Dalton could also be facing an independent candidate.
The history of independent candidates in provincial elections presents a bleak picture for anyone considering this approach. But the one possible independent has undisputed organizational abilities which could result in a vote split favouring Dalton.
It is unknown whether or not the B.C. Conservative Party will field local candidates in the May 2017 election, as that party continues to experience inner turmoil over leadership and other governance problems.
A major issue facing NDP candidates across British Columbia is the party’s strong opposition to almost every employment generating proposal presented by the Liberal government.
With the best performing provincial economy in the country and the lowest unemployment rate in Canada, Horgan and his slate of candidates will be hard pressed to offer reasons why anyone should support the NDP in May 2017.
To be sure, not everyone in B.C. is happy with the Liberal government, but recent initiatives, such as a move to create a more equitable program to collect medical services premiums and other issues, will undoubtedly be augmented by other election goodies, which will be trotted out over the next several months.
With less than 60 per cent turnout of eligible voters in either of the local ridings in 2013, campaign strategists will be looking for ways to improve that lackluster performance by voters.
Maybe the candidates for all parties can hide some Pokemon Go targets inside polling stations. This would almost certainly increase voter turnout and help indifferent voters get some exercise.
– Sandy Macdougall is a retired journalist and former city councillor.