THERE ARE TWO THINGS that I remember from the end of the 2017 BC provincial election where the BC NDP scraped into power with an agreement with the BC Greens.
The first thing I remember is a comment a veteran BC NDP party organizer told me. They said that the most important thing the BC NDP could do as a party was get out and start organizing for the next election.
The BC NDP has long had strong electioneering skills, from door knocking, to phone banks, to fundraising, to getting candidates to run. But the veteran organizer felt the BC NDP was maxed out to capacity in the 2017 election, and without building up the grassroots with more volunteers, donations, and community support, the BC NDP would have a hard time running an effective campaign the next time around.
Elections start long before the writ is dropped. The veteran organizer thought the BC NDP needed to start organizing in 2017 for the next election.
The second thing I remember at the end of the 2017 BC provincial election, after the BC Liberals lost power to the BC NDP, was a tweet from a top BC Liberal party organizer saying they were starting to organize for the next election. The BC Liberals have been getting ready for this election for the last three years. Over the last three years, I’ve seen many tweets from the BC Liberal party boasting they were preparing for an election.
Clearly, the BC Liberals have been preparing. As of today, they have candidates nominated in 62 out of 87 ridings, compared to the BC NDP, which has only 42 candidates nominated in the 87 ridings. Where an incumbent is running, the two parties are almost equal, with the BC Liberals having 33 incumbents running compared to the BC NDP having 32 incumbents nominated as candidates.
The biggest difference is in ridings where an incumbent is not running. There, the BC Liberals have 29 candidates nominated, compared to the BC NDP with only 10.
Here in the Thompson-Okanagan, eight of the nine ridings currently have no BC NDP candidate. Boundary-Similkameen, Kamloops-North Thompson, Kamloops-South Thompson, Kelowna-Lake Country, Kelowna-Mission, Kelowna West, Shuswap and Vernon-Monashee all have no BC NDP candidates. Only Penticton has a BC NDP candidate nominated. All nine of the Thompson-Okanagan ridings have BC Liberal candidates nominated.
Here in the Thompson-Okanagan, the BC Liberals are ready, the BC NDP is not.
Part of it is likely that these Thompson-Okanagan ridings were all won by the BC Liberals in the last provincial election.
More broadly, across the province, there is a deep divide, with the BC Liberals holding almost all the seats in the Interior and Northern BC, while the BC NDP, along with the BC Greens, take Vancouver Island. The battleground, for both the BC Liberals and BC NDP, isn’t the Interior or the North. It is the ridings in the Lower Mainland.
It may well be that the BC NDP is prepared to win in the ridings they currently hold and ridings that were won or lost by a few votes, in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. It may be that they haven’t put time or effort into ridings, like Kamloops-South Thompson which they don’t have a strong chance of winning.
There is no point putting huge resources into ridings where there is little chance of winning. If the BC NDP can win all of the seats it currently has, and a few more, it can return to government with a majority. It may well be that the BC NDP is prepared for an election in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. But not in the BC Interior and the North.
But clearly, the BC Liberals think differently. They’ve prepared across the province. They are ahead of the game.
It seems that the BC Liberals must have listened to my BC NDP party organizer back in 2017. It’s just not clear that the BC NDP listened, too.
Here’s hoping that strong candidates come forward for both parties in all the ridings that have yet declare candidates. Win or lose, every riding deserves strong voices from all the political parties during the election to ensure people have the opportunity to hear all the parties’ platforms.
Thank you to all the people who come forward to run. It’s a great service to democracy.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.