Date Posted: August 26, 2011
Print Edition: August 25, 2011
There are no politics like BC politics, because BC politics don’t stop. The battle grounds for the next provincial election are being drawn, and Langley is looking to be the epicentre of a massive power shift. The UFV student body consists of (roughly) 20 per cent Langley residents, which means that when the next election does finally get into full swing, they are going to have a heck of a front row seat.
Right now, hitting the ground running and stirring things up on the political scene, is John Cummins. He’s the new leader of the recently resurrected BC Conservative party. He’s also loved by the NDP and hated by the Liberals as he stands a good chance of draining the far right-wing support. The Liberals have had the hard-line conservative vote since the early 90’s when the Social Credit party began to implode; them being the only appealing choice to turn to at the time. But now with the Liberals tanking in the polls, opportunities are opening up for other parties.
The question of when that election will actually occur, though, is something most of us would like to know. But very few are privy to the inner workings of the BC Liberals, and in particular – Premier Christy Clark. The premier has been talking about having an election ever since she was elected head of her party, in order to receive a new mandate. But the odds of having an election in the next fall session are getting smaller by the day. It’s almost impossible to ramp up an election given the schedule she’s established as well as other events that will be occurring: her trades trip to Asia, a Fall parliamentary session, the HST referendum results, municipal elections, etc. The best chance of seeing an election occur this year may have already past. The best guess is that it will be in the fall of 2012.
Cummins, a staunch right-winger himself, has been involved in federal politics since originally being elected in 1993 with the Reform party. He then became an originating member of the Conservative party, serving the riding of Delta-Richmond East, since it was formed back in 2003. That was up until the last election when he decided not to run, opting instead for the position as head of the BC Conservatives.
However, Cummins is not in the BC legislature yet. Recently he moved from Richmond to Langley, where he’s done everything but formally announce his intentions to run in the next election. When he does, he will be up against one of the Liberal’s strongest cabinet ministers, either Mary Polak (Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation) in the riding of Langley, or Rich Coleman (Minister of Energy and Mines) in Fort Langley-Aldergrove.
If he does choose to run against Polak, he’s in for a tough battle. Polak is popular in her riding and won with more than 20 percentage points over her NDP competition. But is that enough to stem off a strong Conservative candidate, in a very Christian riding? Home to many strong Conservative Christian lobby groups, Cummins can attack Polak on issues she can’t touch because of the party’s stance. Cummins is strong on fundamental Christian values, such as same-sex marriage and abortion issues. In a right-wing riding, you better believe that these things matter, even if this is BC. She may be able to hold on to her seat through the next election, but if the Conservatives can siphon off just twenty-one points from her, than the NDP will take Langley.
It’s also possible for Cummins to run in Fort Langley-Aldergrove, putting him up against a very popular opponent in Rich Coleman. Coleman took his riding in the last election by a factor of 2-to-1 over his NDP competition. However, there are some unconfirmed rumblings that Coleman may not run again. If this were true, Cummins would be pretty much guaranteed a seat. But I remain unconvinced of these rumours. Coleman has no plans to retire, making his best shot to be against Polak.
Whatever happens with Cummins, the fact is that BC is getting a third political party. Any ridings that they win will come at the expense of the Liberals. Is that really such a bad thing, though? Is it not time for a change in the political landscape with some new blood? The Liberals are stagnating and Christy Clark, aside from lobbying the federal government for ship building contracts, has yet to prove herself as much of a leader. They are still the party of Gordon Campbell.
Ultimately, the NDP will end up in power if the Conservatives split the right wing vote. I believe that this is a good thing. And while I’m not entirely sold on a revived NDP under Adrian Dix, if the NDP wins, it’s really a win-win situation for the province. The way I see it, if they prove to be a great party and drive the province forward, we’re all the better for it. But if they prove to be a failure, what we will have lost is one election period, but we will have gained something much greater. We will have gained a greater democracy and more choice, where we have three real parties from which to choose. It will dynamically change the way the province governs, and we will be much better off for that. I say bring on the Conservatives.