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Conservatives poised to win in Skeena-Bulkley Valley

The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) has never been on a stronger footing to challenge the NDP in Skeena-Bulkley Valley since the federal riding was created in 2004.

In that inaugural election, the NDP’s then-novice candidate Nathan Cullen edged out the Conservative’s Andy Burton. Burton would have been the incumbent for the Skeena riding had it not been combined with parts of the Prince George-Bulkley Valley and Cariboo-Chilcotin ridings to form Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

Redistricting opened the door for the NDP and Cullen took 37.1 per cent of the vote in 2004 to Burton’s 33.7 per cent.

In the four subsequent federal elections, however, Cullen solidified his domination of the riding peaking in 2011 with 55 per cent of the vote.

NDP support took a bit of a dip, as can be expected with a new NDP candidate in 2019, but Taylor Bachrach still garnered 40.9 per cent of the vote for a 7.7 per cent margin of victory over the Conservative’s Claire Rattée (also a novice candidate). Rattée closed the gap a bit in 2021 to 6.5 per cent.

Here’s the thing, though, there are plenty of votes in Skeena-Bulkley Valley for the Conservatives to draw from. Vote-splitting on the right has hindered the CPC.

In the last election the People’s Party, Liberal Party and Christian Heritage Party combined for 17.5 per cent of the vote.

The Conservatives would have only had to turn 38 per cent of that 17.5 per cent to unseat Bachrach.

Providing something very dramatic doesn’t occur in the next 20 months, 2025 is going to be a whole new ball game with the Conservatives riding high in the polls.

Unlike in 2021, when Rattée was saddled with a relatively moderate milquetoast Conservative leader in Erin O’toole, Pierre Poilievre’s fiery libertarian rhetoric is like catnip to potential People’s Party and Christian Heritage voters.

And, with two-term BC United MLA Ellis Ross now the federal Conservative candidate locally, the CPC might even be able to tap into some traditionally Liberal support, providing the Liberals don’t pull a very strong candidate out of their hat, which seems highly unlikely. Even if they did, though, that could siphon moderate votes from the NDP as well.

Bachrach and the NDP are going to have their work cut out for them next time around like never before in the past 20 years.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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