By Tim Collins
As election day approaches and the campaign heats up, British Columbians are gearing up to determine who will govern the province after May 9.
While an overview of the recent polls indicate a very tight race between the NDP and Liberal parties provincially with the two parties basically polling at a dead heat, those same polls show very little movement for the Green Party. On Vancouver Island, the NDP continues to do well, with most polls forecasting them being successful in 10 of 14 seats, with the Liberals and Greens projected at winning two apiece.
In the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding, former NDP leader Carole James has a stronghold on the seat as she campaigns to hold her third term in office. She faces B.C. Green Party’s Kalen Harris. The Liberals are running Karen Bill, an executive assistant (on leave) in the B.C. egislature.
Michael Prince, a professor in the faculty of human and social development at the University of Victoria and a widely recognized expert in B.C. politics, feels the riding is an NDP lock.
“Carole has been a very active and effective representative and has very deep roots in the community. She is emblematic of a candidate that is so well regarded and has so much respect and affection from her constituents that they may vote for her with little concern about party affiliations,” said Prince.
The same is true of the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding where the NDP’s Maurine Karagianis won the seat three times, beginning in 2005. But Karagianis has retired and it now falls to Mitzi Dean, a candidate with a history of working in the field of community services, to take up the torch and work toward a fourth consecutive NDP victory in the riding.
Dean’s primary opponent is the well-known three-term mayor of Esquimalt, Barb Desjardins, running for the Liberal Party, but Prince believes being well known doesn’t necessarily translate into success.
“Barb’s name recognition is very strong,” observed Prince.
“That can be an asset, but, of course, it can also be a two-edged sword. Voters who supported her work as mayor may vote for her, but there will also be those who might have had a problem with her handling of some municipal issues. That baggage comes along with name recognition.”
In Victoria-Swan Lake it appears as though the NDP incumbent is bound for a third term, said Prince.
In 2013, Rob Fleming, won re-election in Victoria-Swan Lake by a better than two to one margin and, like the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding, the Green Party candidate finished second.
This time out Chris Maxwell is representing the Green Party, but does not live on Vancouver Island and, although he has pledged to move to Victoria, should he be successful in his bid for MLA, Prince said it may not be enough to win him the seat.
“Rob Fleming is a young guy who has worked really hard within his riding. As education critic in the current government, he’s also made some headway in developing a strong name recognition,” said Prince.
“It would be very unlikely that either Maxwell, or the Liberal candidate, Stacey Piercey, will stand much of a chance here. But of course, you never really know what’s going to happen,” he said.