election 2011 – six BC races to watch.
April 4, 2011
in the past, BC voters have tended to buck electoral trends. this anti-bellweather province has only elected most of its of MPs for a governing party twice between 1968 and 2006. however, in an era of repeated minority governments – a supposed anomaly under our first-past-the-post westminster system – pundits and party operatives have looked to BC as a coveted (and thus highly contested) region.
many ridings, such as my own (vancouver-east, an NDP stronghold), are well entrenched in their voting patterns. but many of the country’s dramatic races will be happening here on election night, as a number of very interesting ridings are up for grabs.
BC’s status as parliamentary kingmaker has led to an increase of its influence within the confederation, along with an increased profile. however, that spotlight will shine brightly only as long as this province continues to vote erratically.
in that light, here’s a list of ridings to watch:
- burnaby-douglas: the NDP is counting on SFU professor kennedy stewart to hold on to this working family riding. although considered a safe seat for the NDP, it has increasingly become a three-way race between the liberals and the conservatives. prediction: NDP hold
- vancouver-kingsway: much like burnaby-douglas, this is another three-way race, this time in the heart of vancouver. this riding has tended to vote NDP or liberal, with a fairly strong conservative showing. prediction: NDP hold
- vancouver-south: the conservatives came very close to taking this riding from former premier ujjal dosanjh in 2008; the liberals are not going to risk this one again. prediction: liberal hold
- west vancouver-sunshine coast-sea to sky country: this riding lumps together communities as different as powell river and whistler, squamish and the british properties. though this tends to be a conservative stronghold, i wouldn’t call it safe: the liberals took it last time. prediction: conservative hold
- esquimalt-juan de fuca: this riding has been held by keith martin since 1993, under 5 different banners – reform, alliance, conservative, independant and liberal. now retiring, this is a tossup. my guess is that this will be a conservative-NDP race, especially with this being both a working class and military riding. prediction: NDP gain
- saanich-gulf islands: this might be the most watched riding in the country. much like west vancouver-sunshine coast-sea to sky country, it consists of the hippie-life gulf islands, the retirees of saanich and the professional civil service in victoria. the reform/alliance/conservatives have held this riding since 1993, but the intense media attention provided to the greens and their leader, elizabeth may, has made this an unpredictable race. prediction: green gain
my guess is that BC’s 36 seats will break down as follows: 21 conservative, 10 NDP, 4 liberal, 1 green.
it will be interesting to see what comes of this election, as it has the potential to become a redefining moment in our history. potential, however, does not always translate into action; beyond whatever the politico-types will have you believe, it will probably be remarkable for one thing only: a record-low voter turnout.