Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Battle For British Columbia

Ah, British Columbia... the home of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Arts, Culture, History, and a political scene that makes even the most devoted politics-watcher cringe. This is one of the few places in this country where, at any given time, voters can elect a Conservative, New Democrat, or Liberal with equal likelihood - and now the Greens are elbowing into the picture, as well. The timing of this post in fortuitous, as new polls came out just yesterday that will help in handicapping the races here.

The only universal truth in BC these days is that the carbon tax recently implemented by Premier Gordon Campbell (whose BC Liberal Party is far closer to Alberta's PC's than anything else) has been ridiculously unpopular. The voters of BC don't necessarily associate the BC Liberals with their federal cousins, but they DO see red at the mention of FURTHER taxes on carbon and emissions - which is making the Green Shift an extremely hard sell to folks in Lotusland.

Now, I'm a big believer in the old adage that there are 3 types of lie: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics. I don't put a lot of stock in surveys and public opinion polls, and I'd highly recommend that you don't, either. That said, the pollsters talked to a LOT more British Columbians than I have lately, so we'd be remiss if we ignored the polling results altogether.

IF the polls ring true (they won't), the Conservatives are looking at picking up as many as 10 seats in BC on October 14th. This is made possible, in large part, by the migration of frustrated Liberal and NDP voters to the Greens. Ridings that are particularly vulnerable, based on the 2006 election numbers, current polling, and just plain TALKING to folks who live there, include:
  • Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca (currently held by the Liberals)
  • West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea-to-Sky Country (Liberal)
  • Vancouver Island North (NDP)
  • Vancouver Quadra (Liberal)
  • Richmond (Liberal)

Vancouver-Kingsway, which has been in the Tory tally since David Emerson crossed the floor, is most likely to return to Liberal hands. In fact, there are generally perceived to be only 3 truly "safe" Liberal seats in the entire province: Kingsway, Vancouver Centre, and Vancouver South.

It should be noted that in 2006, BC had more support for the Liberals than any other non-Atlantic province except for Ontario. That said, the Green Shift plan is taking off like a lead balloon here - wrong time, wrong place - and left-leaning voters who WOULD have been more willing to park their votes with Jack Layton and the NDP are instead finding themselves inclined to support the Greens - since they know the Greens, who would tax carbon even more than the Liberals, have no chance to get elected and actually make it happen.

All told, if current trends continue, the vast majority of BC ridings will likely be coloured Blue on the network maps. Whether or not this is a good thing for BC, or for the country, is open to debate. And, of course, there's the actual campaigns, both national and local... campaigns MATTER. A few incidents here or there, and it's a whole other ballgame. The debates may be a big game-breaker, as well. But at THIS point, the Tories look like they're taking much of the province outside the major urban centres, and even a healthy number of sites WITHIN the urban centres.

Looking for a number? With the help of the Hill and Knowlton Federal Election Predictor, call it:
  • NDP - 6 seats
  • Liberal - 3 seats
  • Conservative - 27 seats

Not happy with that idea? Don't shoot the messenger... volunteer for your local Liberal, New Democrat or Green. BE the change you want to see on the political map. Sure, it's EASIER to stay home, read the blogs, and then complain about Stephen Harper for the next 4-ish years. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. If you support a party other than the Tories, then get out and actually SUPPORT the party. Knock on doors, deliver fliers, volunteer at the campaign office... after all:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
- Margaret Mead

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