Friday, March 1, 2013

Current momentum in BC Politics

We are only just over ten weeks till election day and all the political parties are working hard to be ready for the election.  So who has momentum at the moment?

The Liberals have a momentum, but is the wrong type.  The party can not seem to anticipate problems and is having them arise far too often, since the new year it has been one thing after the other.  The only hope lay with an impressive performance in the legislature.  The throne speech was a pointless bore other than offering a distant vision of an LNG nirvana that even the most cursory examination shows is utterly unrealistic.   The budget is unbelievable with polling showing that even the majority of BC Liberal supporters do not think it is balanced. Nothing is changing to indicate the Liberals are moving in an improving direction politically.

The one thing the Liberals have going for them is a some interesting new candidates of a decent caliber.   Among others, people such as Linda Larson in Boundary Similkameen, Todd Stone in Kamloops South Thompson, Mike Bernier in Peace River South, Dan Ashton in Penticton,  Peter Fassbender in Surrey Fleetwood and Jordan Sturdy in West Vancouver Sea to Sky.   I would go as far to say that the new Liberal candidates for 2013 are a better set than the ones in 2009.  Certainly they are a more impressive set than the NDP had in 2001 when they were on their way out.

These good candidates are not enough to halt a momentum running against the Liberals.   I would not be surprised to see polling numbers falling further.

I see little out of the NDP that I would call momentum.   The party is being generally quiet and avoiding controversy  much like they did in 1991.   This will work well for them and bring them a landslide win in seats if nothing interesting happens.   This is the problem, sitting still in politics is a dangerous place to be because you give up control of the agenda to other forces.  

1991 should have been a huge landslide win for the NDP.  There was no reason they could not have won 50% of the vote and taken 60 to 65 seats.  Their 1979 and 1983 election results showed that with the very divisive Dave Barrett the party could do well and even win  more than 45% of the vote.   The party should have done better in the popular vote in 1991 than the train wreck election campaign under Bob Skelly. (I was there for the famous disaster press conference of Skelly.  His performance may not have been great but he was clearly undermined by dumb decisions of the campaign staff).

The NDP is safe now but really are risking being caught off guard.

Even a few weeks ago I did not think they would be much of an impact on the election, but the work by candidates like Scott Anderson in Vernon Monashee to go after his Liberal MLA seems to be giving them some new credibility after the serious internal problems in 2012.

This week they announced two interesting candidates, for MP Paul Forseth in New Westminster and  Duane Nickull in Vancouver Point Grery.   I had not heard of Duane Nickull, but people assure me that in his field he is a big name.

John Cummins also seems to have made peace with Rick Peterson.

All this says the Conservatives have stopped their decline.   They are on the cusp of having some positive momentum but unless they have another strong couple of weeks they are likely to be stuck not quite making any difference to the outcome of the election.

Historically the Greens in Canada have rarely done much more than run a host of paper candidates.   Federally and provincially there really have only been eight to ten serious attempts to elect someone and that is over a thirty year period.    2013 in BC looks different.  

I was at a Green event a week ago in Vancouver and it was something very different.   There were about 200 people at the event and my estimate is that the evening grossed over $20,000 for the party.   The people at the event were dressed up - most men in suit and tie, most women dressed for an evening out.

In the Victoria area the Greens have the example of Elizabeth May being elected federally and a very close loss in the 2012 federal by-election in Victoria.   Greens in Victoria at least now know what it takes to win a seat.

Also in Victoria the Greens are a lot more than just Andrew Weaver.   Four of the candidates running now have street front campaign offices open.  

Various pundits and media are beginning to say it is possible for the Greens to win a seat.

The Greens seem to be building towards a momentum for their campaign but they have not yet overcome all of the static friction of the assumed patterns of the past.

Since they are not a group it is really hard to talk about them having any momentum.  

  • Vicki Huntingdon does not feel like she has much momentum but on the other hand no I know of that knows the riding thinks there is any danger she will lose.
  • Bob Simpson does have momentum and seems to be building up towards a strong win.
  • John Van Dongen seems to be be picking up but I am not sure how strong
  • Arthur Hadland in Peace River North has managed to get some provincial media coverage and locally is getting traction.
  • Moe Gill in Abbotsford West got buzz when he announced his run but I can not get much sense that there is a strong campaign there
  • Gary Law in Richmond Centre - not being able to read or hear the Chinese media I am at a loss to know how he is going over.

All the Other Parties
All the other parties in BC are stuck at zero, or so close to zero as to not make a difference   Here are the only ones that I think might try to do anything at all.

BC First - Months ago announced two candidates and since then nothing
Christian Heritage Party of BC - No indication of anything happening, I am sure they will run a handful of candidates but the fact they have nothing up 10 weeks before the election says there will not be any serious campaigning
BC Refederation Party - They managed to have 22 candidates in 2009 which made them the #5 party in the province.  They now seem to be doing nothing
BC Libertarian Party - They ran in the by-elections last year but since then they have been quiet.   Given the dynamics of this election, if the Libertarians were to run 85 candidates they could realistically take 5% of the vote.


Anonymous said...

"The Liberals have a momentum, but is the wrong type"

- a bit of an understatement?

scotty on Denman said...

The BC Liberals have the same kind of momentum as the Oz's melting wicked witch. Or like putting out the fire with gasoline.

The BC Conservatives will be bigger spoilers than most anticipate and, with the entry of Duane "Chaos" Nickull in Christy's riding, a very shrewdly nominated alter-ego to the senior Cummins in the what will be May 14's most highlighted riding, they might surprise everyone and win a seat. They now have some momentum.

I agree the Greens are netting some uncharacteristically well dressed fish, a phenomenon seen before in places like West Vancouver where traditionally right-wing voters defaulted to Green, it being their anathema to vote NDP. Unfortunately for the party the addition of these parked votes will be cancelled out by erstwhile Green supporters who realize splitting the progressive vote is antithetical to their proclaimed environmentalist ethos. Momentum has to be seen and there is little visible from the Greens; I suspect funding support has fallen substantially.

The NDP are playing it safe and, realizing inertia truly is dangerous, will carefully turn up the heat as the campaign evolves. This in itself might lend some momentum but will really be intended to keep the election in the bag. A comfortable majority seems assured; no sense jeopardizing it attempting a sweep. This strategy plays well with Dix's promised prudent, no surprises government.

Most people are wondering what, not if, the NDP government will do. The kind of momentum they want is a steadily increasing flow of policy planks that gets better and better right up to election day. It'll be interesting to see if they play the BC Rail inquiry card or not. Doesn't look like they need it to win but it is a potent weapon to have, holster unclipped, safety off.