Beyond the Ballot: Federal Election 2019 British Columbia
This is part of a series of regional updates by our cross-country team, who are in-jurisdiction experts regarding the on-the-ground dynamic of the Federal Election.
In British Columbia, every federal election kicks off with the same question: will the entire election already be decided before any votes are counted in British Columbia? While in past years that has been true, the uncertainty of the results three weeks out from Election Day means British Columbia may be the region to watch this time around.
The Green Party
The Green Party of Canada is increasingly seen as a mainstream option thanks to its strong support in British Columbia. The first-ever Green Party MP was from B.C. but was not Elizabeth May. First elected as a Liberal and then sitting as an Independent, Blair Wilson ran as a sitting MP for the Green Party in 2008 but was defeated. The most significant win for the the Greens came when the voters of Saanich – Gulf Islands chose Elizabeth May as their MP in 2011. In May 2019, a by-election in the Vancouver Island riding of Nanaimo – Ladysmith elected another Green MP, Paul Manly.
The current minority provincial government in B.C. is also supported through a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Green Party’s three MLAs and the party received almost 17% of the vote province-wide at the last election.
If you ask British Columbians, they believe the Greens are here to stay and likely to make gains in the province this federal election. For those interested in following the Greens, the seats to watch most closely are on Vancouver Island, especially Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke and Victoria.
Multiple four-way races
It is increasingly difficult to predict election outcomes, but there are two relatively safe predictions for B.C. this election. Firstly, the province will elect MPs from each of the four parties – the Greens, Liberals, NDP and Conservatives. Not a very bold prediction given this has been true since Elizabeth May won in 2011, but it is does make the province stand out among its counterparts across the federation.
Secondly, because of the many tight four-way races here, there will be one or more candidates elected with as low as 30% of the vote in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. While the federal party leader and ‘air war’ matter most, local organization and get-out-the-vote efforts will be crucial in these tight races.
A big question on the minds of many British Columbians, especially Liberals, is how much the SNC-Lavalin controversy and Jody Wilson-Raybould’s removal from the Liberal Caucus will impact ridings other than her own (Vancouver-Granville). Many here assume that Prime Minister Trudeau’s treatment of Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott could hurt the party’s chances with women and millennial voters in Metro Vancouver.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould has announced that she has raised her full election expenditure limit and is no longer accepting donations. This major milestone has not yet been reached by many candidates and certainly speaks to the level of support she has.
Top ridings to watch
|Vancouver – Granville
|The home of Independent candidate Jody Wilson Raybould is shaping up to be a five-way race. The Liberals desperately want to keep this riding but the NDP, Conservatives, and Greens all believe they each have a path to victory because of the vote split between Ms. Wilson-Raybould and the Liberals.|
|Burnaby North – Seymour
|Claiming the terminus of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the oddest riding boundaries in the province, this constituency includes Burnaby and North Vancouver which are separated by the Burrard Inlet. Incumbent Liberal MP Terry Beech secured 36.09% in the last election. While Mr. Beech is recognized as one the of the hardest working MPs and even won an award for his door-knocking efforts, many expect the Liberals’ approval of the pipeline will hurt his chances for re-election.|
|Two-term incumbent NDP MP Randall Garrison is in a tough fight this time in a riding that is a four-way race. Green Party candidate David Merner lost to Mr. Garrison in 2015, however at that time he was running under the Liberal banner.|
|Long-time NDP MP Murray Rankin’s support in this riding crossed traditional party lines. With his decision not to seek re-election, both the Greens and Liberals would love to take this seat for themselves. Party platforms on the environment, particularly oceans protection, as well as affordability and housing will matter here. At this point, the riding certainly looks ripe for a Green pick-up.|