Tuesday, July 26, 2011

British Columbia Politics is Getting More Interesting

The British Columbia Conservative Party is a minor party with zero seats.  If voters in BC want to vote for a party that might actually win the election, they must choose between the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party (NDP).  The Liberal Party is not affiliated with the national Liberal Party, and they are considered farther-right.  They are the major centre-right party in BC, although they are probably around the centre.  The NDP is a social democratic party (i.e. centre-left).  Many people in BC are fed up with the Liberal Party, but the NDP is also unappealing to many people.  I hope that the Conservative Party manages to gain traction in the coming years, although I may not be able to vote for them (as I may not live in BC).  In Canada's federal elections of 2011 and 2006, BC gave the 4th highest percentage of its votes to the Conservative Party (after Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, in that order; the territory of Nunavut also gave a higher percentage of its votes to the Conservatives).  The coast of BC, where most of the population lives, is generally more liberal, while the interior is more conservative.  There are also some conservative areas on or near the coast, such as the Fraser Valley (for example, Abbotsford and Chilliwack), some suburbs of Vancouver (for example, Richmond, Delta, Langley, White Rock, North Vancouver and Maple Ridge), and some areas of Vancouver Island (for example, Parksville); and there are some liberal areas in the interior (such as the hippie haven of Nelson).  

It is evident that British Columbians would like an alternative party to vote for, and the BC Conservatives appear to have an opportunity to grow.  In fact, a recent poll shows that the Conservatives' support is at 18 percent, compared to the 2 percent of the popular vote they received in the most recent provincial election (2009).  In may, the party elected John Cummins as its leader, and his ideas are allowing him to gain support.
A proposed rapid transit line in the Vancouver suburbs of Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Port Moody, called the Evergreen Line, is at the heart of an issue for which John Cummins has received recent media attention.  An increase in the gas tax has been proposed as the method by which to pay for this tranist line.  However, Cummins is saying that the line can be payed for by municipalities, which could make butget cuts to pay for the line.
That Mustel poll was taken in May. It showed the Liberals on top with 37 per cent support, the NDP right behind with 35 per cent, and the B.C. Conservatives in third with 18 per cent. 
That's an 11-point jump for the Conservatives since December. Who knows how high Tory support could grow, as gas-tax grumpiness grows? 
"It's not just the Lower Mainland," said Cummins. " People are fed up with high taxes everywhere. They know they're being pinched. No one has been standing up for them." 
He said the party's membership is growing. Donations are increasing. The plan to run candidates in every riding is on pace. 
And the Liberals are sweating, because they know Cummins could split the right-wing vote, and allow the New Democrats to sneak back into power.
Who knows how high Conservative Party support will grow?  I am optimistic that their policies will be popular with British Columbians, and their popularity will grow as more people believe that they might be able to win some seats.  Both current major BC parties support the gas tax.  

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