When governments continuously win re-election and form dynasties, these circumstances often produce the illusion that parties like the BC Liberals are “safe” and immune to being voted out. While this is at times the case, all dynasties are subject to close calls, and situations where the opposition looks all but certain to form government. This reality was epitomized in 2013, when the BC Liberals “came back” from a double-digit deficit to stun the media, pollsters and the NDP.
With the BC Liberals trailing the NDP in most polls for the second election in a row (2013 and 2017), our next government will be decided by the actions of the young (18-35) and disadvantaged – people who need change the most, but often vote in low numbers. To those voters begging for change, my message is simple: if you and a friend cast votes for either of the two main opposition parties on May 9, you will wake up to a new government the following morning.
Many young people are deterred from voting because they feel their vote does not matter. While this is indeed the fatal flaw of our winner-takes-all system, if you live in one of Metro Vancouver’s 13 swing ridings (see below), I’m certain your vote will count more than it ever has. Firstly, flipping eight of the 13 Metro Vancouver swing ridings from the Liberals would hand the NDP a minority government at 43 seats, a member short of the required 44 for a majority. With support from the Greens, who are expected to hold their riding and compete in three to five others, the next four years could easily be governed by an NDP-led coalition.
Over half a million British Columbians are working for less than $15 hourly, a rate that many economists and unions alike consider to be a poverty wage. Furthermore, with a menu of regressive taxes (PST, MSP premiums, Carbon Tax, ICBC Premiums) and high costs of living making the lives of British Columbians harder each year, a full reset and defeat of the government’s anti-poor agenda is desperately needed.
If people who are fed up or crunched by the status quo make these truths by awakening our sleeping progressive bloc, recent trends in other provinces suggest we could be in store for a change in government.
Take Alberta, Quebec and our Federal election for example. After 44 years of PC governments in Alberta, 54.2 per cent of eligible voters turned out to lift the NDP to power, the highest percentage of votes cast in 21 years and seven elections. In 2014, after controversial revenue raising measures were included in the Quebec Liberal Party’s budget, their government fell and was replaced by the left-leaning Parti Quebecois on the highest voter turnout margin in five elections, or since 1998. Trudeau’s victory in 2015 saw participation spike to 68 per cent, up from 61 in 2011.
While elections are decided by many other circumstances than just higher voter turnout, it is often needed to not only remove unpopular governments, but elect progressive leaders (ask Hillary Clinton that). Together, we can make sure change comes to BC, and we aren’t left wishing that more had voted.
Each of the following ridings were decided by 2,500 votes or less. These ridings results are from the 2013 General Election and include 2016’s narrow by-election race in Coquitlam – Burke Mountain. The total number of votes that decided these ridings were 9,307.
To put this in perspective, as of Nov. 2015, 7,525 students were enrolled in Capilano University. Coquitlam – Burke Mountain MLA Jodie Wickens of the NDP won the seat by 690 votes in a 2016 by-election.
In 2013, Liberal Douglas Horne (who vacated the seat in 2015 to run for the federal Conservatives) won the riding by 2,451 votes.
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