An election has been called in British Columbia, and why should we care, you may be asking. Fair enough. The provincial politics of B.C. don't have much of an impact on us here in Ontario, but for open-minded politicos there are a couple of things to watch out for when British Columbians go to the polls on May 14.
At the time of the writ's dropping, B.C.'s 85 seat legislature was split between Christy Clark's Liberals and Adrian Dix's New Democrats 45 to 36 (with 4 sitting independents). Both Clark and Dix are relatively newly elected leaders battling each other in their first election as head of their respective parties. Meanwhile, former Conservative MP and present B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins has the daunting task of not just securing a seat for himself, but some seats for his party members.
For Clark, the stakes are high. Not only is there the Liberal dynasty at home to worry about - a Liberal's been the head of the province since 1996 - but there's also the fact that B.C. remains one of the last Liberal strongholds in the country. Jean Charest's loss in Quebec last fall, the perilous situation of Kathleen Wynne in Ontario, and the ongoing issues federally means that a loss in B.C. is going to seriously upset the brand. That forward momentum that the Liberals are feeling with Justin Trudeau on the bridge might lose some of the gust from its sails with a high-profile loss in B.C.
Unfortunately for Clark Co. that's exactly what the polls seem to indicate is going to happen.The three most recent polls all show an NDP lead with varying degrees of intensity. An EKOS poll from the first week of April gives the NDP the slimmest edge over the Liberals 39.3 per cent support to 27.3 per cent, it also gives the Green Party the biggest margin for a third place finish with 16.2 per cent, which is about three points ahead of the Conservatives at 13.4.
Two other polls conducted last week paint a much bleaker picture for the Liberals. An Angus Reid poll says that the NDP have a lead of 45 per cent over the Liberals' 28, while an Ipsos Reid poll conducted over roughly the same time period gives the NDP 48 per cent support to the Liberals' 29. These polls also look bad for the third and fourth place parties. The Conservatives and the Greens are more or less in a tie for third with 12 per cent and 13 per cent respectively in the Angus Reid poll, and 11 per cent and 9 per cent according to the Ipsos Reid numbers.
So what does this mean? It stands to reason that as the numbers look right now that Dix is going to be the next Premier of British Columbia, but the real question is what will become of the Conservatives and the Greens? The Conservatives secured barely 2 per cent of the vote in 2009, so surely they may be in a position to place now in 2013. But not so fast, because the Green Party finished in 2009 with 8.21 per cent, and still didn't secure a seat in the Legislature. It will depend how the numbers break down per riding.
Looks like it's going to be interested political times in B.C. for the next month.