Are we really less than a year away from another provincial election?
The political parties in B.C. are certainly aware of it if the steady stream of candidate announcements this October is any indication.
All of these announcements came with a heavy dose of optimism, and you would have to be an eternal optimist if your political leanings are anything but NDP in British Columbia at the moment.
In 2017, the Liberals (now BC United) actually “won” the election in terms of seats taking 43 to the NDP’s 41. If John Horgan had not been able to strike a deal with the Green Party, which had three seats, he would not have been premier.
He used the next three years well, with a little help from a global crisis, to translate that into a majority (57 seats) in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Liberals basically imploded making the new name for the party kind of ironic. Perhaps they mean what is left of their support, however meager, is united.
In 2020, the Conservative Party of B.C. barely existed. They nominated only 19 candidates and got less than two per cent of the popular vote. They only hold two seats and official party status now because of a defection (Bruce Banman, Abbotsford South) and an expulsion (John Rustad, now B.C. Conservative leader) from BC United.
But they have surged in the polls, now rivalling and perhaps surpassing BC United for second spot. All of this has the NDP poised to take 77 (or more) of the 87 seats in the legislature come October of next year, according to 338 Canada, an independent website that tracks political polling.
With vote-splitting on the right, even if NDP support remains steady at less than 50 per cent, or even if it declines slightly, they are easily going to walk away with the 2024 election.
Northwestern B.C. from Haida Gwaii to Smithers is pretty much a lock for the NDP, but the race for Nechako Lakes could be one of the most interesting in the province. John Rustad won it for BC United in 2020, but as Conservative leader, he will face the popular Houston mayor Shane Brienen running under the BC United banner.
That one could go either way, or it could open the door for a clean NDP sweep of the region west of Prince George.
If right-leaning British Columbians ever want to unseat the NDP, who now firmly hold both the left and central ground, they are going to have to form a truly “united” party.