Written by James Rose
According to a recent Mainstreet Research poll that surveyed respondents from April 1st to 3rd, 36 per cent of B.C.’s decided and leaning voters support NDP. Those numbers indicate the same level of support that polls showed near the end of March, but is down two points from where the NDP registered in mid-March. The Liberals follow at 33 per cent, down one percentage point, while the Greens are holding on to their gains at 19 per cent. The Conservatives have remained at a steady 11 per cent since early March.
“The NDP and Liberals are essentially tied and all three parties seem to be doing well in different parts of the province,” said Mainstreet president Quito Maggi in the Vancouver Sun. “If an election were held today [April 7th] the result would likely be a minority government.”
To each candidate currently running for the Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA seat, the polling results mean different things.
“We don’t take a single vote for granted,” said NDP candidate Gerry Taft. “We are out talking to voters every day about the issues that matter to them. I believe that voters in this area will choose an MLA who will speak for them first. I’ve spent the last 15 years in local government fighting for this region, and that’s what voters are looking for.”
“I have seen a number of stories recently about polls that have come out, some are more accurate than others, but the only poll that matters is the one voters in Columbia River-Revelstoke will do on election day,” said Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok.
Green Party candidate Samson Boyer was more upbeat. “The polling has definitely put some pep in my step. Seeing the B.C. Green Party making strides is so encouraging,” said Boyer. “Andrew Weaver is an inspiring and well-respected leader and it’s great to see that recognized. Yes, we’re trailing the NDP and the Liberals and there’s a lot of work still to be done, but the numbers are impressive and very motivating nonetheless.”
Meanwhile independent candidate Justin Hooles remained mostly ambivalent toward the Mainstreet numbers. “The current results mean very little to anyone’s campaign, as at the time neither of the two parties had released a platform, and across our riding 46.3 per cent of eligible voters did not vote in the last election,” said Hooles. “There is plenty of room and time for things to change. Also, the poll does not include independents or any of the smaller parties at all. However, it does show that a lot of people are unsure, and that means that it is still anyone’s race.”
Polling results are by no means indicative of future election results. As a reminder, before Rachel Notley and her Alberta NDP party won a provincial majority in 2014, and before Donald Trump more recently won the United States presidency, both politicians had poor polling numbers heading into their respective elections. By and large, neither was expected to win based on prior polling results.
And despite the encouraging numbers for the B.C. NDP’s, Taft said the results won’t change the way his team campaigns. “We don’t operate based on polling numbers, so it doesn’t change a thing,” said Mr. Taft. “We are having conversations with voters and talking about their concerns and their aspirations. And we’re reminding citizens that we can, in fact, do better. The people of B.C. deserve better.”
Clovechok echoed a similar sentiment. “Over the next month, I’m going to keep doing what I have been doing for the past four years – working hard to earn the vote of people across our riding,” he said. “My wife and I have logged over 25,000 kilometers in the past year on our car as we’ve travelled all over the region to share the B.C. Liberal plan to put British Columbians first by controlling government spending, keeping taxes low, and creating jobs through a strong, diverse economy so we can invest in the things that matter to British Columbians, and people here in Columbia River-Revelstoke.”
But in looking to provide an explanation as to why the NDP polled well in the survey, Hooles seems to believe it all comes down to people wanting change.
“Honestly, it comes down to the fact that a lot of people are simply tired of our current government,” he said. “After 16 years, the B.C. Liberals have become too comfortable with being in government”, and have stopped bothering to hear from anyone, including their own MLAs. I think many people are preparing to vote for the NDP just to end the B.C. Liberals reign.”
Hooles was quick to add however that it does not have to simply be one or the other.
“I would like people to know there is an alternative. That they can have representation that cannot be influenced by party discipline, representation that is accountable to them, above all else. I think it is time to try something truly different, and elect a representative that will look at each bill and ask, is this good public policy and what does this mean for my constituents, and then consult with the public before deciding how to vote. I am running in order to provide that option.”
Yet from Doug Clovechok’s Liberal perspective, it appears that regardless of the past 16 years, he believes good governing means looking ahead on behalf of the electorate as opposed to focusing on the past.
“If the last election taught me anything it’s that hard work and having a plan is what matters the most, which is why I’m proud that today’s B.C. Liberals released today [April 10th] our 2017 platform that will build a strong B.C. and bright future for our families. It’s responsible, it’s costed, and nobody’s taxes are going to increase because we can afford what we plan to do.”