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BC Provincial Election Breakdown

Thirty-two registered political parties will contest the May 12th provincial elections to elect 85 members of the new provincial Legislative Assembly. According to an Angus Reid poll conducted from March 20th to 22nd, British Columbians will be casting their votes for the party best able to address a few primary issues.

Of these, the economy was most on voters’ minds at 36% followed by crime at 19%. In Metro Vancouver, worries about crime rose to 24%. Far down the list came health care (8%), the environment (5%), homelessness (5%), poverty (4%), and aboriginal affairs (1%).

The two parties who sat in the previous legislature, the ruling Liberals (45 seats) and the opposition New Democrats (NDP) (34 seats), seem the only ones realistically able to form government after May 12th.

Results released by the Mustel Group, based on an April 1st to 7th telephone poll, showed the Liberals ahead by 52% vs. 35% for the NDP and 12% for the Green Party. How are the parties positioning themselves for the voters in the days before the vote?

A second deciding factor will be the ability of the Greens and the various smaller parties to carve off supporters from the big two. Greens are considered to be a threat primarily to the NDP which in the 2001 and 2005 elections aggressively targeted Green supporters.

The Greens deny that their support comes only from the left of the political spectrum. On the right, Liberal support could be compromised in some interior ridings by the B.C Conservative Party. The Work Less Party (WLP), with its very credible showing in the 2008 Vancouver municipal election, could impact the NDP and Green vote in East Vancouver, one of two ridings they will contest in May.

The Vancouver Observer approached representatives of the Liberals, NDP, Greens, Conservative Party, and WLP to get their insights into how the election might unfold. The Liberals and Conservative organizations did not respond before press time.

Of those who did respond, the following comments were obtained by Mel Lehan (NDP, Pt. Grey), Drina Read (Green, Vancouver-West End), and Conrad Schmidt (Coordinator, WLP).

VO: What do you think are the key election issues and why should voters care about them?

Lehan: Climate change, the economy, and homelessness are the key issues this time around. People understand that we must take a holistic approach, where environmental, economic and social health have to be integrated. Each of these areas must be taken into consideration when pursing our goals.

Voters care passionately about all of these issues and understand that the NDP is the party most committed to taking this holistic approach. Finally, in Vancouver-Point Grey, voters will decide whether they want an MLA who is truly involved with and accessible to their constituency and who has a track record of knowing how to create healthy community, or one who is almost completely absent from the life of their community, as is Campbell.

Read: Climate change is a reality and everyone needs to work together to stop it. The future of our very existence is at stake. We have a diversity of candidates, including union shop stewards, small business people, teachers, artists, engineers, retail workers, First Nations community leaders, environmentalists, health care professionals and student leaders.

Greens have guiding principles that are universal to the global Green movement and, when we have elected MLAs, we will hold the big status quo parties accountable to the people of B.C. Elected Greens all over the world frequently are invited to form coalition governments with cabinet positions. By holding the balance of power, Greens are able to advance green policies with parties that may not have the health of the planet as the number one priority.

Schmidt: WLP is the only party with a novel solution for an economy that doesn’t depend on endless consumerism and growing the GDP. All the other parties are arguing about the need for growth without giving serious thought to just what that means for us as individuals, for society, and for the planet. And because they are too scared to address the real issues, they only serve to delay solutions until sometime in the future when it will be immeasurably harder to turn things around.

The current recession and financial crisis offered us an amazing opportunity to restructure our economy for sustainability. Instead, governments are rushing to put in place more of the same failed policies that got us into the current mess in the first place.

It’s still a hard sell for some people to accept this, but you’d be amazed how many people are beginning to realize that the sorts of things we are talking about are the only real solution.

VO: What do you think the election outcome will be?

Read: When you consider that the BC-STV will likely pass and we will have fairer voting in the May, 2013 provincial election, voters who have been bullied in the past to vote for a distasteful big party candidate to keep the really bad one from being elected will be more likely to choose their local Green candidate.

Many times, we hear, "I really like the Green Party, but I have to vote for X to keep the other party from getting into power." The potential of the new voting dynamics in BC should give voters the courage they need to make an honest decision at the ballot box.
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