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.


3 Responses to “election 2011 – six BC races to watch.”

  1. Charles in Vancouver Says:

    Don’t forget that the West Van riding has a special history. They did elect a Liberal, Blair Wilson, in 2006 – who jumped ship to the Greens before the 2008 election. The incumbent vote got poached every which way – some stayed Liberal, some went to Green, some probably went to Conservative in protest. So it remains to be seen whether those votes will stay Conservative this time around.

  2. mkushnir Says:

    definitely. i was trying to keep my notes really short and sweet, so I left that bit out. i think the results will be reasonably similar in this case, but my bet is the liberals will pull most of their new support from NDP voters last time. i’d say that if the grits want this one, they’ll have to work VERY hard. they do fairly well in west vancouver, but can they take the conservative vote in whistler along with the NDP vote on the sunshine coast and in squamish? that is the question in that case.

    also, closer to home, peter mansbridge was on the national in van-kingsway to discuss the electoral WTF that is going on in that riding and van-south last night!

  3. Well you were correct on 5 out of 6 counts…

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