By Roy L Hales
An NDP staffer recently pointed out that the national poll projections for our riding are mostly algorithms, based on national numbers with very little if any information actually coming from Powell River – North Island. “The only poll that matters is on election day.” I can’t help but wonder what he would have said if 338Canada had projected the NDP leading. 338Canada’s creator, astrophysicist Philippe J. Fournier, accurately picked the winners in 90% of Quebec’s and Ontario’s ridings during their 2018 provincial elections. That’s pretty impressive when you consider how much can change in a day. As of September 16, 2019, Fournier’s projections show the Greens & Conservatives dividing Vancouver Island.
“There are only seven seats up for grabs, but if you consider Vancouver Island had more NDP MPs after the most recent  election than any province outside of Ontario and Quebec, you can see how high the stakes are …”
” … A bad showing in Quebec along with big losses on Vancouver Island could be the kind of blow that would send the NDP back into the political wilderness of the pre-Jack Layton days. The Greens, meanwhile, could turn Island success into the backbone of Canada-wide legitimacy. ” – Toronto STAR
Greens Taking Over The South
Fournier depicts the Greens leading in the race for Vancouver Island’s four southern ridings: Saanich–Gulf Islands; Nanaimo–Ladysmith; Esquimalt–Saanich–Sooke and Victoria. This projection is supported by the CBC’s Poll Tracker, which suggests the Greens will pick up at least four BC seats. The rub of it for the NDP is that, aside from Elizabeth May’s own Saanich-Gulf Islands, their party swept all of these ridings in 2015.
“I am not running against the NDP. I am running to elect as many of these wonderful candidates as is possible so that a caucus of Green MPs can assist Canadians, particularly in a minority situation such as that which occurred under Lester B. Pearson (1963 -68),” said Green Party leader Elizabeth May, when she unveiled her party’s platform in Toronto on Sept 16.
The Green Party will fight for “universal pharmacare, dental coverage for low income Canadians, and the elimination of tuition and billions for post-secondary education, and the elimination of poverty through a Guaranteed Liveable income. Policies will address housing affordability, good governance, international relations and defence, immigration, arts, culture and media, fisheries policy, endangered species, water quality, ocean plastics, seniors, women’s health and food security.“
“We are in a climate emergency and politics-as-usual is leading us down a path we simply cannot survive. The Green Party is proposing a course change, and we are ready to take the lead.”
Asked how a party that has no hope of forming the government could do any of these things, Ms May cited the example of the NDP from another era:
“It can be said that a party that never held power did more to put our social safety net in place than anyone else. It was a different era then, for the NDP. Back in the 1960s, Tommy Douglas didn’t care who git the credit. David Lewis didn’t care who got the credit. They just wanted to make our lives better. That’s the kind of people we are now. We are determined to make things better for Canadians.”
Conservatives in Northern Vancouver Island
Meanwhile, the Conservatives appear to be focusing their attention in the North of Vancouver Island. Andrew Scheer adressed about 300 people in Courtenay on September 6, 2019. While he was there, the Conservative reaffirmed his support of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
“The Conservative Party supports pipelines in general, specifically because we know that the sector employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians. It supports the energy sector, it supports the manufacturing sector, the construction sector, so lots and lots of Canadian families in every province have jobs thanks to our energy sector. Having the ability to get it to markets, and getting oil and gas off of rails makes it safer. So pipelines are something that we support,” he told Black Press Media.
On the afternoon of Sept 15, North Island-Powell River candidate Shelley Downey introduced Scheer to a small gathering in Comox. That evening he promised a much larger assembly, at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre, that a Conservative Government would cut the tax rate on taxable income less than $47,630 from 15 per cent to 13.75 per cent.
What About The NDP?
These were all NDP ridings in 2015. Many things could change in the 32 days left until the Federal election, but at the moment the projections suggest the NDP could lose most of their seats in British Columbia as well as every seat on Vancouver Island.
That said, a little over three weeks ago the NDP were ahead in in Esquimalt–Saanich–Sooke, Cowichan–Malahat–Langford and North Island – Powell River. They still closely trail behind the leading Conservatives in two of those ridings.
A recent article in the STRAIGHT suggests the projections could be misleading. The observation that Jagmeet Singh seems “very authentic and actually, quite likeable” seems equally applicable to Andrew Scheer or Elizabeth May, but the author also writes that Singh “is the first Canadian political leader who’s made antiracism a centrepiece of his campaign … There are a lot more antiracist, young, liberal white people in this country than many older Canadians probably realize.” Like the Greens, the NDP promote themselves as a champion defending the nation against big corporations and the looming climate crises. They also offer:
“ … a wealth tax, national pharmacare, and the possibility of dental and vision care in the future. Plus, the party’s promising a Green New Deal modelled on a similar idea gaining popularity in the United States.”
This actually sounds similar to the Greens, though the two parties differ as to a number of particulars.
Meanwhile, it seems doubtful that the Liberals will win a single seat on Vancouver Island. Fournier’s projections suggest their best chance is in Esquimalt–Saanich–Sooke, where they trail closely behind the Greens. If they succeed, this will be the first riding to elect a Liberal since 2008. That was the year Keith Martin was elected in Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.
Top photo credit: Official Leader of the Opposition and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer speaks at the FCM annual conference in Quebec City May 31, 2019. Photos Andre Forget via Flickr (Public Domain)