Monday, May 14, 2001
Pre-election notes - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER -- So it all comes down to this. Wednesday night when the polls close, British Columbians will see a new government take office, and anxiously wait for who’ll come in second place. Whether it’s the Greens or the NDP, the Official Opposition will be formed not of the voter’s conviction, rather a shrewd numbers game.
I have always raised strong objection to the Liberals winning all seventy-nine seats, as it’ll strip BC of the entertainment we’ve come to expect. A lot can happen in a week in BC, and two days before polling day, a lot can still happen. The New Democratic Party will be dealt a severe loss and whether one embraces their ideology or not, it’ll be a loss for the political make-up of the province as well as the passing of history in these parts.
If the NDP manages to scrape even ten or so seats, it’ll be a miracle, even then not enough to sustain itself in the political climate of the province. The Socreds, if you’ll remember had seven elected MLA’s in 1991 and yet they have all but evaporated from the political scene. The NDP won’t be dealt the fate the Social Credit Party received, but for it to become a viable entity on the political scene, will take years. The NDP is a party with an ideological base that is deeper than that of the Green’s and a history that’ s quite vast. Ujjal Dosanjh, for all the difference he poses against the ghost of Glen Clark, has been detrimental to the party.
Ujjal Dosanjh was elected leader of the party in 2000 with the hopes of rebuilding the once proud New Democrats after some major damage inflicted by his predecessor Glen Clark. Dosanjh’s performance has been at best uneven. His term in office was no more style than substance. After over a year in the Premier’s chair, he’s got nothing of any great significance to claim to his name. At least Glen Clark had ferries, as well as mounting legal bills. The grizzly bear moratorium is example yet of the division inflicted by Dosanjh to his party. Dosanjh, at this point of introspection, is leading a party he’s essentially destroying.
His concession was unprecedented, some have said courageous, some have said an act of political cowardice. I think on a morale level, Dosanjh has alienated and probably pissed off the NDP candidates that have risked so much to participate in democracy during this election. Dosanjh’s concession was devised so as to focus the party’s spent resources on winning strong urban NDP seats. What about those people in the Okanagan or in the Peace, who risked their dignity by carrying the NDP banner in ridings where the NDP had no hope in hell of winning, let alone attracting some votes. How are they to react the time around when the party beckons? How ready and willing are they to help a movement that left them out to dry?
The NDP will cease to exist outside of their strongholds, and what then if those stronghold are upset by the Green cart? Ujjal Dosanjh is a man of remarkable courage and skill. His equivocation of his campaign is the personified reality of his lackluster helming of the party. He was elected in February 2000 to improve their fortunes, sadly he did not succeed.
On another note, Wednesday night’s election coverage will certainly feature one for sure -- the Liberals will win. We’ve known that since 1996. I’ll be looking for how many seats they actually win. I think it would be truly historical if they won into the mid-sixties. Also, poli sci freaks will salivate at the percentage of popular vote and compare that to the seats won for all parties. The PR boosters will be armed and ready.
I honestly don’t know who’ll form opposition. I’m even scared to predict, but I think that even the NDP will be surprised with the result they’ll get. I’ll wait in anticipation the result in my riding, that of the Premier’s, Vancouver-Kensington. For whatever it’s worth, my vote will go Dosanjh if for no other reason that he’s a better candidate than the Liberal.
Malahat-Juan De Fuca will be an interesting riding to watch, as well. It’s currently held by independent MLA Rick Kasper. Kasper won the seat in 1996 as an NDPer, but as he seeks the seat as an independent, we will see whether he can retain it. We don’t elect many independents in these parts, so it’ll be interesting if we’ll make some kind of history.
Also what will be interesting is the incumbant NDP seats and which of those they’ll loose. Better yet they will loose, because of the Greens.
Pundits will look most definitely to Powell River-Sunshine Coast to see how Gordon Wilson will fare, as well as his opponent, Green leader Adriane Carr. I think besides Campbell, irrespective of the result on Wednesday night, Carr can consider her and her team true winners for their efforts in this election.
Christy Clark, the Liberal incumbant in Port Moody-Westwood, will probably win the biggest majority. She’s only up against a no-name NDPer and a Marijuana party candidate. She’s fiercely popular and a major cog in the Campbell wheel.
Prince George-Omineca will be interesting if for no other reason that incumbant Liberal Paul Nettleton is up against NDP cabinet minister Ed John. If John can pull off the win, it’ll be a surprise. If not, Ujjal Dosanjh’s efforts will all have been in vain. Remember that Dosanjh trying to improve his fortunes last fall, tried to recruit outsiders into the fold. Ed John was the only one who bit. We’ll see just how good Dosanjh’s forward thinking fared.
Whatever happens, do vote on Wednesday. Elections, this one included, isn’t about personalities butting heads, or parties outdoing each other in tastelessness. They are about democracy if the citizen will make it so. Let’ s all show up and mark a ballot on Wednesday -- it’s not rocket science.
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