Vancouver's Pollapalooza rolls on. Sandwiched between last week's Federal election and the November 15 Civic election are two Provincial byelections in Vancouver-Burrard and Vancouver-Fairview. While this page was pleased with the 37 seats won by Jack Layton and the Federal NDP on Tuesday, and expects the Vision-COPE alliance to take back 12th and Cambie from the NPA next month, I am less than optimistic about Carole James and the BCNDP sending a message to Gordon Campbell with the next provincial election six months away.
Vancouver-Burrard is made up of two distinct groups: the transient renters of the West End and the owner-occupiers of overpriced condos in Yaletown. Thanks to the Liberals writing a blank cheque to landlords and developers through their amendments to the Landlord & Tenant Act, the former group has been vanishing while the latter group has seized the balance of power, allowing back-to-back terms for BC Liberal Lorne Mayencourt, the only MLA this page is aware of who is so beloved by his constituents that they punched him in the face. This riding is going to be split in two for the 2009 election, but the contest will be staged under the current boundaries. The other problem with transient voters is that they tend to be less informed about the issues, and leads them to vote for 'name' candidates. The BCNDP, candidate, Spencer Herbert, may be doing an outstanding job on the Vancouver Parks Board, but has never owned the Vancouver Canucks like BC Liberal candidate Arthur Griffiths did.
The BC Liberals have another 'name' candidate with Margaret McDiarmid, the former President of the British Columbia Medical Association. Is Health Care going to be the major issue in the next Provincial election, given the state of the economy? Highly unlikely, but Health Care is always an issue in the riding which has Vancouver General Hospital, The B.C. Cancer Agency, a sizable number of seniors' homes and the highest concentration of medical professionals in B.C. I don't expect McDiarmid to have any good ideas about Health Care given that she'll be parroting the privatization line of her party, but her candidacy gives the appearance of the Liberals being concerned. Meanwhile, the BCNDP is going with Community Activist' Jenn McGinn. This page has met McGinn on a couple of occasions and believes she would be a great MLA, but Fairview has too high a concentration of voters who believe that success can be read off someone's financial receipts, and can't be bothered with someone who works for a living unless her name is followed by the initials "M.D." It's an NDP riding, but remember that Gregor Robertson won in 2005 because of his reputation as a 'green entrepreneur' not because anyone thought he was a champion for social justice. Robertson also received a lot of support from Greens, who will more than likely be returning their votes to Party Leader Jean Sterk, who's also running in Fairview.
The 2004 byelection win by Jagrup Brar in Surrey-Panorama Ridge kick-started the BCNDP's comeback from political oblivion, but this time Carole James faces the prospect of the NDP's recent momentum coming to an abrupt halt in less than two weeks. Besides the mismatch of candidates, the Carbon Tax, which is being reviled in other parts of British Columbia, is not an issue in two ridings where voters are centrally located and don't commute. The CanWest-dominated Pro-Liberal media in B.C. will browbeat the public into thinking that Liberal wins in two of the most elitist, well-to-do ridings in the Province reflect a 'stay the course' mood across the Province, even if no one knows what that mood really is, given that the Province's elected representatives didn't sit in the Legislature this fall.