Baldrey: B.C. is in for an 'energetic' election year — if last week was any indication

In for an 'energetic' election

The legislature doesn’t sit again for almost two more weeks but already things are getting fairly active on the B.C. political scene.

Premier David Eby is returning to his near-event-a-day pace and the Opposition parties are also getting more active after the extended Christmas break.

Take last week as an example of how energetic this election year will likely be in B.C. politics.

The week started with the release of yet another poll showing the NDP sailing along comfortably in the land of public opinion while the three Opposition parties continue to flounder.

The poll’s findings were particularly bad news for the stumbling B.C. United Party as it now trails the B.C. Conservatives by eight points and only leads the B.C. Greens by just six points. The once-governing party is in danger of slipping to fourth place.

In fact, when the voting “universe” numbers are examined (this is the total number of people willing to consider voting for a party), B.C. United actually is in fourth place, scoring just 34 per cent which is a point behind the B.C. Greens.

The B.C. Conservative Party voting universe is much higher at 41, although it is still a long way back from the NDP’s voting universe of 54 per cent.

Undaunted by the bad polling numbers, the B.C. United Party unveiled its ad campaign aimed at “re-branding” the old B.C. Liberal Party with the new B.C. United name. It is still unclear how extensive the campaign will be and whether it will be a case of too little, too late considering the election campaign officially begins just seven months from now.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Conservatives announced another big policy shift. Party leader John Rustad, who supported the passage of the United Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples while a member of the B.C. Liberal opposition, is now calling for it to be repealed.

He is trying to tie UNDRIP to concerns about potential changes to the Land Act, leaving the impression First Nations could have veto powers over some land use decisions. It is a complete flip-flop for Rustad, but the move seems a calculated one aimed at wooing conservative voters in the rural regions.

Not to be outdone when it came to getting attention, the B.C. Greens made news when party leader Sonia Furstenau announced she was switching ridings.

She now intends to run in the longtime NDP stronghold of Victoria-Beacon Hill and leave the riding of Cowichan Valley, which she has represented since 2017. She seems to be facing very steep odds at winning Victoria-Beacon Hill though: NDP MLA Grace Lore, the new children and family development minister, beat her Green Party candidate by 25 percentage points and more than 7,400 votes in the 2020 election.

Finally, the week ended with Post Secondary Minister Selina Robinson in very hot water for controversial comments she made about the creation of Israel. She has apologized for them, but some pro-Palestine groups are demanding her ouster from cabinet.

This story is not over yet by any means. We shall see where it goes.

All in all, a busy week and a taste of what lies ahead in an election year.

Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.

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