Those of us following the federal election have been patiently waiting for the Liberals to declare a candidate for the Kootenay-Columbia riding. The federal Green and Conservative parties had gone public with their candidates by the end of February. The NDP held their nomination event in mid-March.
Back in February, a spokesperson for the Liberal Party told The Valley Echo that prospective candidates for the local riding were still being screened, but that the party would be ready with a candidate in every riding in the case of an early snap election. At the time, Betty Aitchison, who represented the Liberals in the 2011 and 2008 elections, told The Valley Echo that she would not be running again.
Three months later, a Liberal candidate has still not come forward and, based on what NDP candidate Wayne Stetski is saying, one might not come forward at all — or at least not one with any real credibility.
Stetski has burst out of the starting gates with a strong campaign complete with public appearances, regular letters to the editor, and press releases espousing his views on Stephen Harper’s leadership style, Bill C-51 and the federal budget — all within 1.5 months of his nomination convention.
According to the online Election Almanac, the latest public opinion polls (as of the last EKOS polling day, April 14th) indicate the Liberals and NDP are tied neck and neck at 25.9 and 25.3 respectively in B.C. with the Conservatives leading at 29.4
In light of Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau’s personal affiliation with Stetski and the stronger NDP political persuasion of the Kootenay Columbia now that the boundaries have changed to include the NDP stronghold of Nelson, Kaslo and Salmo, it would be a prudent strategy on the part of the Liberals to avoid splitting the vote if the end game is to chip away at the Conservative majority and, with the Liberals lagging so far behind, not an inconceivable one.