I haven’t been active at all in provincial politics since I moved to Ontario nearly five years ago. Naturally, I’m inclined to support the McGuinty Liberals (some issue by issue disagreements with them aside) but I’ve neither joined (except briefly before the last election) nor volunteered for the party, and haven’t blogged much on provincial issues either.
Could be that I have my hands full following the minority madness in Ottawa, but I also think it’s because I was spoiled growing-up in British Columbia, where provincial politics is more than a little crazy, and always entertaining (even if Campbell tried hard to make it boring again.)
It has, however, become increasingly polarized over the years, and that has left many – myself included – unimpressed with our options and hungry for an alternative. I joined and volunteered for the BC Liberals in my teens in the mid-1990s, when it was led by Gordon Wilson (before his nuttiness was evident) and was the third-party in BC. And when it was also still what you and I would call liberal.
It’s a situation many in BC find themselves in. The BC Liberals are too right; the BC NDP too left (and not particularly welcoming to federal Liberals either, which doesn’t help). It leaves many on the sidelines, and many holding their noses to vote for the lesser evil. And neither party seems particularly inclined to appeal to this disenchanted centre.
It leads to a teeter-totter of voter support in the province. The province, when it had enough of the Harcourt/Clark years, reduced the NDP to two seats in 2001, handing 77 seats to the Liberals. They gave Campbell two more majorities but with decreasing enthusiasm and now, with their handling of the HST feeding underlying fatigue and disenchantment with the governing party, the polls show the BC NDP is again poised to win a mandate (although the election won’t be until 2013).
The opposition New Democratic Party has harnessed public anger over the harmonized sales tax to open its biggest lead since Gordon Campbell's B.C. Liberals took power in 2001, a new Angus Reid poll has found.
Conducted this week, the poll found the NDP have 47 per cent support, a commanding 18 points ahead of the governing Liberals.
The Liberals have the support of just 29 per cent of people across the province, the poll found, 17 points below their total in the election last May. The Green Party has 15 per cent support, and the B.C. Conservative Party has five per cent.
Interestingly, though, it’s not as ifBritish Columbians are suddenly enamored with Carole James and the BC NDP. It’s just that they’re really pissed at Campbell’s Liberals, and there’s no other real option.
Forty per cent of people polled described the NDP as "inefficient," and 37 per cent called it "weak."
The poll found that a newly created centre-left party could form the government if it ran in the May 2013 election.
When asked, 34 per cent of people said they would vote for the new party, ahead of 28 per cent who said they would vote NDP. A new centre-left party would relegate the B.C. Liberals to third, the poll found.
Could the vaunted BC Liberal coalition of right and centre (if it ever really existed other than in name) be ready to fracture? Maybe. Could we see a third party in the province, a party of the centre-left? If things get dire enough for the Campbell Liberals, it’s certainly possible we could see an exodus.
The question though is who flees though, and who do they attract. The other possibility is a strengthening of a right-wing party. Might some of the right-wing BC Liberals flee to the BC Conservative Party, or form their own alternative? The same Angus Reid poll showed a new right-wing party would guarantee an NDP majority and reduce the BC Liberals to 15% in the polls.
Even if the right fled, allowing the centre-left to reclaim the BC Liberals, the brand may be pretty tainted, sadly, at this point. A new party would seem like the better choice, with the better chance of securing voter support. It may be a question of who flees the BC Liberals first. But a centre-left party would have the best chance to form a government, drawing support from both centrist BC Liberals and BC NDP supporters who voted for the party by default. A solidly right-wing party wouldn't challenge for government.
We seem to go through these upheavals every now and again in BC. The constant, though, has been a two-party system. The BC Liberals were largely a fringe party under Wilson until the Socred takeover. We essentially traded the Socreds for the new “Liberals.”
Now we may be due for another upheaval. Whatever happens though, I hope we don’t end up with another two-party province. The ideal situation would be parties of the left, right and centre. And wherever you’d put the Greens.