The dust has settled on the B.C. election, sort of. We really won’t know until the end of May what the new legislature will look like. There are two seats going to recount for sure, one with a 23 vote spread, and one with a two vote spread. Then there are 15 more seats with less than a thousand vote difference which could be affected by the final count of mail-in and other miscellaneous ballots.
The North Island is not one of the constituencies with a close election. Claire Trevena took the seat for the NDP with a margin of over 2,800 votes, getting about 52 per cent of the total votes cast. Marion Wright received only 39 per cent for the Liberals, while Philip Stone received just over seven per cent for the Greens.
The final results were a bit different from the projection of a close campaign made during the election period. It is apparent that the Liberal strength was overrated as well as was the defection of some green support for the NDP.
The Liberals ran what could be characterized as a Plutonic campaign, promoting the benefits of Plutonic Power’s massive private run of the river power project in Bute Inlet, and choosing a First Nations woman to pull First Nations vote from the NDP. This campaign was bolstered by environmentalist Tzeporah Berman on Cortes Island who turned on the NDP because of their concern about private power developments without adequate scrutiny, and their objection to the Liberal government’s carbon tax.
The First Nations strategy did not pan out for the Liberals, and it was evident early on during election night that the traditional First Nations NDP vote was holding its own for the most part. The green backlash fizzled also as other prominent greens supported Trevena, and the total Green vote percentage declined from 2005. Concern over Plutonic’s project was apparently greater than support for it.
The Liberal campaign also suffered from some bad decisions and poor handling, one notable case being the candidate’s disrespect for the efforts of the non-partisan committee working to bring a new hospital to the region.
Province-wide the NDP campaign was not as effective as the local North Island one. However, it was also not as bad as the newspaper stories the following day would make out. Stories like “Campbell’s reviled carbon tax paid off for him in the end,” “Carbonated vote in B.C. election,” and “Axing the tax paints the B.C. Liberals green.” All stories written to support the myth that the B.C. Liberal government is leading the way in dealing with global warming.
The fact is that the “Axe the Tax” campaign did hurt the NDP, it hurt it because the party chose to fight the tax on its economic impact rather than on its more serious environmental failings. It was a trap laid by the Liberals to divert attention from their many faults and scandals and take the heat off of any meaningful action on climate change, and it worked. Between some environmentalists running around with their hair on fire, and most media buying into the fairy tales, what should have been an election on the government’s performance or lack of, never really got to that point.
Not much changed. The Libs got almost the same percentage of votes as last time. The NDP got marginally more. The Green Party vote was slightly less.
There is some speculation that had the NDP run a “greener” campaign they would have won. That is mostly wishful thinking. Had the Green Party vote switched to the NDP at a rate of 50 per cent, which is what polls show can be expected, it would only have affected five seats, not enough. Some also say that the fact that Campbell won validates the carbon tax as environmental policy. What they miss is that the tax is a clever device to avoid real solutions and a way to derail opposition.
Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada’s West Coast.