With the 40th British Columbia general election looming closer, it is important to know the political battlefield you are about to step into. If any of you have watched the news during the past four years, it is likely you have seen some aspect of our volatile political climate, from the resignation of former BC Liberal leader and Premier Gordon Campbell in 2010, to the upset in the BC NDP leadership in 2011. With both parties slinging mud at the other, it is almost time to decide who the victor is.
The Dirt on Christy Clarke
The two front-running parties in BC have been the BC Liberals and the BC New Democratic Party. The BC Liberals hold the current minority government, led by the current Premier, Christy Clarke. They are a separate entity from the federal Liberal Party of Canada, although they do share many major political angles. After former leader Gordon Campbell resigned due to low approval in the wake of the botched HST implementation and a corruption trial around the sale of BC Rail, Christy Clarke became interim Premier and later voted into leadership. There were questions into her involvement in the BC Rail scandal, as she maintained family connections to people mentioned in court documents and search warrants. She maintains a Liberal tradition of centre and centre-right politics. She was a strong critic of the federal Conservative Party under Stephen Harper during the 2008 federal election, although is closely associated with several former Conservative and Reform Party members. Her policy base is structured around a “family-first agenda”, bringing in the provincial “Family Day”, along with steps for deficit reduction, increasing BC exports to Asian markets, and working to benefit small businesses to create jobs.
The Dirt on Adrian Dix
The BC New Democratic Party forms the current official opposition in the BC legislature. It has a political lean to the centre-left. Unlike the BC Liberals, the BC NDP are directly connected to the federal NDP and all of BC’s members are both federal and provincial politicians. It is currently led by Adrian Dix, after former leader Carole James resigned due to opposition within the party about her leadership. Adrian Dix was the Chief of Staff to former Premier Glen Clark in 1996 to 1999. He was forced to resign when it was revealed that he produced a forged memo in an attempt to remove himself from an investigation into a casino license scandal. In 2005, he served as the MLA for the Vancouver-Kingsway riding. He led his leadership bid with a platform of removing reductions to corporate tax rates, moving carbon tax revenue to pay for public transit, supporting an increased minimum wage, and reducing interest payments on student loans.
Public opinion polls have been run by polling firms since the 2009 election, with new results being posted each week. Trends have shown a drop in support for the BC Liberal party to the twenty percent level, and a steady rise for the BC NDP, into the forty percent range. The most recent online polls (March 18-19, 2013; sample size 809) run by Angus Reid Public Opinion firm place the NDP in the lead with forty-eight percent support, while the Liberals trail with twenty-eight percent. The BC Green and BC Conservative Parties, both attempting to break through the front-runners in this election, stand with eleven percent. Whether the election in May follows these public opinion polls or not remains to be seen, as new scandals and political landmines seem to be popping up every day.
Regardless of which party has your support, be sure to register on the voting list and head out to vote this May. The election date is tentatively scheduled for May 14, and may be subject to shifting before an official date is set.