The dust has settled after the Nanaimo byelection, but
the picture going forward is far from clear.
New MLA Sheila Malcolmson has received a lot accolades since her convincing victory on Wednesday night, but now the intrigue begins. How will this impact the workings of government in Victoria? Many suggest
it will be more status quo with the NDP and Green agreement continuing on without a ripple. but don’t count on it.
Commentators and pundits are digesting whether a member of Parliament would step down to take a provincial role without some bigger
expectations. Malcolmson was asked numerous times during the campaign whether she had been promised a cabinet post, and she walked the fine line of not saying so, but making it known what her interests are. She repeated her commitment to affordable housing,
but tipped her hand when she talked about control of oil tanker traffic in B.C. waters.
The environment has always been one of her passions, even when she served on the Islands Trust Council.
Cabinet shuffles are common after a year and a half
in government, so we should not be surprised to see that happen shortly. Nanaimo has been waiting for a seat at the cabinet table for some time, so expect to see Malcolmson at that table.
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sure thing about elections is that there are always winners and losers. The Nanaimo byelection had some big losers.
First was the public opinion polling company. Election polls have proven unreliable at best since virtually everyone has cell phones.
But this one was in a field by itself, predicting at 12-plus per cent certainty in favour of BC Liberal Tony Harris. The result was, in fact, an almost nine per cent swing in the opposite direction, a 21-per-cent error. Was this the one-time anomaly in the “correct
19 times out of 20”?
There were numerous reports of residents of the two other Nanaimo ridings being polled, as far away as Ladysmith. If that’s the case, they might as well have polled in Vegreville.
This isn’t a one-off error.
Remember how Hillary Clinton was measuring for new drapes in the White House because she was such a sure bet to win the U.S. presidency? How did that one turn out? Remember how Adrian Dix had the 2013 election in the bag?
John Diefenbaker used
to delight in telling his audiences “you know what dogs do to polls”.
The second big loser was the Green Party which could now be relegated as the fringe group it once was. Getting a mere seven per cent support – down from
20 per cent in the last general election – they were left high and dry by two thirds of their past supporters.
When voters face the decision on what immediate and attainable action they want in running our government, the reliance is on the two
main parties – the NDP and the BC Liberal/Conservatives. Voters are not necessarily gamblers, and in this case, voting Green was a gamble with poor odds.
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver is certainly not bargaining from a position of strength
after these results. He can't rock the boat, it’s better to go with the flow to protect his party’s three seats from a general election. That’s self-preservation.
The winners – BC Liberals and the NDP both gained in their share
of the popular vote. Where did that come from? The Liberals improved their share by more than eight per cent while the NDP improved by about two per cent.
The Liberals narrowed the gap between themselves and the NDP to eight per cent from 14 per cent
in 2017. The unanswered question is where did that 13 per cent of former Green votes park themselves and will they ever return?
Eligible voters 45,359
Votes cast 21,410
47.2 per cent turn out