When it comes to predicting the Mother of All By-Elections™, set for the end of this month in Nanaimo, I find myself running around in circles.
Of course, the NDP will win: it’s Nanaimo, their heartland. They’ve only lost there twice in 56 years.
But sitting B.C. governments don’t win by-elections, unless the candidate happens to be named Christina Joan Clark. So obviously the BC Liberals have this wrapped up.
But maybe Clark pulled out those by-elections because voters realized their choice carried real stakes – just like this Nanaimo by-election will. Okay, the NDP will win.
But the Greens have a decent candidate with deep family roots in Nanaimo, while the NDP candidate doesn’t even live in Nanaimo. Michele Ney could legitimately split the NDP vote, allowing the BC Liberals to win with 42 per cent. Edge: BC Liberals.
Then again, the BC Greens threw everything they had, including what they believed was a star candidate (I’ll forgive you if you have already forgotten the immortal Robert Stupka), at the West Kelowna by-election. Despite multiple campaign visits from Green leader Andrew Weaver and the rest of his caucus, Stupka couldn’t crack 13 per cent support – seven points less than the Greens pulled in Nanaimo in 2017. Advantage NDP.
Nanaimo may be a safe NDP seat, but Chilliwack is a safe BC Liberal one. And, once upon a time, the NDP won a by-election there (the answer to that trivia question is Gwen O’Mahony, whose luck ran out when she was soundly turfed 13 months later). So why not Tony Harris?
But Nanaimo is the Harbour City, with lots of trade unionists taught from an early age to vote against Socreds/BC Liberals.
Or have enough conservative prairie folk retired to Nanaimo over the past 20 years to swing it away from the lefties?
In 2017, NDPer Leonard Krog crushed BC Liberal candidate Paris Gaudet by 14 percentage points. The NDP are definitely going to win.
But in 2013, using the riding’s current boundaries, Krog would have only won by 6.5 points. Gaudet, while touted as a star by the BC Liberal brass, never seemed to resonate with the city’s electorate in 2017. The BC Liberals have a chance.
But nothing good happens for the BC Liberals any more. Every break since the start of the 2017 election campaign has gone the way of the NDP. Why not this by-election?
Then again, the BC Liberals just led the successful defeat of proportional representation, which had to damage confidence in prop rep ringleaders John Horgan, David Eby, and Andrew Weaver. Maybe the worm has turned?
But everyone loves Horgan, because he is new and, well, not Christina Joan Clark.
Except Angus Reid’s latest approval ratings have Horgan in Doug Ford/Donald Trump territory…and Andrew Wilkinson has built on a strong fall convention performance with a prop rep debate win.
Like I said, I can convince myself back and forth, back and forth. So I’ll leave my official Mother of All By-Elections™ prediction to luck. Using an online coin flipping app (who has real coins these days?), I got tails: the BC Liberals pull out a remarkable upset for the ages.
Unless my second flip was actually right, and the NDP hold…
Jordan Bateman has a long history of public policy work, championing small business and fiscal responsibility. Currently the Vice President, Communications & Marketing for the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA), Jordan also served six years as the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and was a two-term Langley Township Councillor