Election Preview: British Columbia 2009, Part II
In my first post yesterday I briefly outlined BC’s fascinating political history up till the 2005 election. In this post I will attempt to outline the electoral developments since 2005, the parties, the polls, the new seats and so forth.
I alluded to the parties in BC in the first post only so briefly, so I decided to post some more stuff on the parties. BC has a largely two-party system, Liberal and NDP. The Liberal Party, which has no affiliation with the federal Liberals and are more similar to the federal Tories than anything else. The BC Liberals include federal Conservatives (ex-Reform/Alliance types too), some federal Liberals, most of the old-days BC Liberals, and the ex-SoCreds who didn’t end up in prison. These Liberals are more liberals in the classical European sense than in the perverted American sense where liberalism is somehow left-wing. In office, the Liberals have reduced corporate income taxes, reduced welfare roles and some social services, privatized BC Rail, cut income tax by 25%, and abolished the NDP’s corporate capital tax for most businesses. The economic managment has been generally successful, with unemployment reaching lows, and improved business confidence. On the other hand, the Liberal government also introduced North America’s first carbon tax, a move which frustrated the most conseratives in the party.
The BC NDP is affiliated with the federal NDP and its supporters are the federal NDP supporters but also a sizeable share of federal Liberals. The party is quite diverse, including the social liberal/urbanite/quasi-Greenie wing and the traditional more socially conservative blue-collar wing. In the logging protests in the 1990s, the ironic thing was that both the loggers and the environmentalist protestors both voted NDP in the past elections then. Though the environmental protestors are probably Greenies right now. I don’t think I really need to explain the NDP’s actual policies that much.
An interesting factor in this election could be the Conservative Party, which I alluded to when discussing parties in my last post. This election, the Conservatives will field around 20 candidates, and strong Conservative performances in some ridings could seriously hurt the Liberals. The Conservatives have said that the Liberals are not right-wing enough.
As I briefly noted in the first post, there has been an electoral redistribution in BC, and the legislature will have 85 seats instead of 79 seats. A map in PDF format of the new districts is available here. There are 6 new ridings:
Abbotsford South (Liberal): Fraser Valley. Safe Liberal, with minimal NDP strenght in urban areas.
Boundary-Similkameen (Notional Liberal, but 1 Liberal MLA and 2 NDP MLAs): BC Southern Interior. Very tight marginal by the looks of it, but notionally Liberal 46/NDP 41. The Conservative Party is running a former Liberal here- might hurt the Liberals.
Coquitlam-Burke Mountain (Liberal): Lower Mainland. Safe Liberal, with very Liberal rural areas and NDP areas in the Port Coquitlam areas of the riding.
Nanaimo-North Cowichan (NDP): Vancouver Island. Safe NDP seat with a large native community and an important logging industry.
Surrey-Fleetwood (NDP): Surrey/Fraser Valley. Tight notionally NDP seat with a large immigrant (Indo-Canadian) population.
Vancouver-False Creek (Notional Liberal, 2005 riding has NDP MLA): Downtown Vancouver. New riding created from Vancouver-Burrard (NDP since 2008). Safe Liberal in wealthy, educated downtown Vancouver. Some University campuses.
There is a great site out there, bc2009.com, which has further information and maps for all ridings.
BCVotes lists 16 ridings as “tight”/TCTC. Here are these ridings:
Burnaby-Lougheed (Liberal): GVRD/Burnaby. Notionally 47/44 Liberal. Immigrant population nearly 50%. NDP strength around Simon Fraser University, generally Liberal outside of that with a few exceptions.
Burnaby-North (Notional NDP, Liberal incumbent): GVRD/Burnaby. Held by a Liberal, but redistribution gives the Dippers a 46/45 advantage. Should be very tight.
Coquitlam-Maillardville (NDP): GVRD/Coquitlam. Notionally NDP 47/45. Generally typical suburbia, but there is a significant industrial area along the waterfront.
Vancouver-Fairview (NDP): Vancouver city. Old riding of relatively similar boundaries held by the NDP in a 2008 by-election. New riding loses some NDP areas in False Creek, but gained some back in the southeast. The Liberal machine didn’t GOTV in the 2008 by-election, and a better GOTV this year is primordial for them.
Maple Ridge-Mission (Notional NDP): Fraser Valley/Maple Ridge. A marginal NDP seat notionally, with most of the NDP strength in urban industrial areas of Maple Ridge and Mission.
Surrey-Fleetwood (NDP): New seat. See above.
Cariboo-Chilcotin (NDP): Northern Interior. The NDP has an edge on notional figures, 47/44. The riding is nearly 20% aboriginal and is heavily dependent on lumber and logging. Redistribution has probably helped the NDP.
Cariboo North (NDP): Northern Interior. A dead race even on notionals, the NDP’s numbers have no doubt suffered from the loss of Williams Lake to Cariboo-Chilcotin. Another riding dependent on lumber and logging.
Stikine (Liberal): Northern Interior. The largest and least populated riding in British Columbia. As expected, the riding is one-third native and is also dependent on lumber/logging (but also manufacturing, tourism and some agriculture).
Kamloops-North Thompson (Notional NDP, Liberal incumbent): Southern Interior/Kamloops. This riding has a Liberal incumbent, but significant boundary changes in the Kamloops areas have made this seat notionally NDP (45/43). The new riding includes the most NDP-friendly parts of Kamloops, which outnumber the rural Liberal areas (in addition to this, the NDP is strong on native reserves out there).
Comox Valley (Liberal): Vancouver Island, and one of the few ridings left untouched by redistribution in 2008. Some industrial areas, but the riding is becoming more of a retiree destination and there is a more right-leaning Canadian Forces Base in Comox.
Nanaimo (NDP): Vancouver Island, including a large majority of the city of Nanaimo. The redistribution has undoubtedly helped the Liberals a lot, turning the old safe NDP riding into this more marginal (though still NDP) riding.
North Island (NDP): Northern (sparsely populated) Vancouver Island. The riding has a sizeable native population and is economically dominated by fishing and logging.
Oak Bay-Gordon Head (Liberal): Vancouver Island/Victoria. Very wealthy and educated suburbs of Victoria, with Liberal coastal areas but more NDP areas inland and around the university.
Saanich South (NDP): Vancouver Island/Victoria. Tied riding on notionals, but NDP incumbent. The coast, quite Liberal, is a prominent spot for retirees and by consequence very wealthy. Inland areas are more NDP.
As to polling in this election. On that front, the pollsters have been either a) inconsistent or b) downright crappy pollsters. However, the later polls up to now seem to agree that the Liberals have an edge over the NDP. Impossible to conclude how large that gap is, though. Also though to gauge where the Greenies stand. While all polls show them over 10%, the Greenies lost votes (quite a bit) in both November 2008 by-elections. Is that a trend which is real, or just the effect of joke-level turnout?
The most reliable pollsters of the bunch, Angus-Reid (all bad reputation aside, Angus-Reid nailed the 2008 federal election) and Ipsos-Reid have the following results.
Others 4-7% (Angus-Reid included the Conservatives @ 4%. Way too high)