Voters in British Columbia often complain the government is decided by voters in the East by the time the polls close in the West, but that isn’t the case in this federal election, according to a local university professor.
Paul Rowe is a professor of political and international studies at Trinity Western University and he said the seats decided in this province should play a big role in forming government.
“My impression is that B.C. seats will help to determine a very tight election so it will be worth it to watch how they go… folks in eastern Canada may well have to stay up pretty late on Monday night to see which party will end up with the largest number of seats,” he said.
B.C. has 42 ridings and 42 seats account for just over 12 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons.
“There are several hotly contested ridings in the greater Vancouver area, so the parties are interested in B.C. concerns,” said Rowe.
Black Press Media’s polling analyst Bruce Cameron has marked the Cloverdale-Langley City riding as one to watch. Liberal incumbent John Aldag won by 10 per cent over the Conservatives in the last election, according to Cameron, but support for the Liberals across the country has since dipped making this a tight race.
Although, Rowe is surprised the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the Trudeau blackface scandal didn’t damage the Liberals more dramatically.
“I don’t recall an election with so little movement in the polls,” he said.
Meanwhile, this federal election saw higher-than-ever advance poll numbers, which Rowe attributes to the fact that polling stations were open during a long-weekend, making it easier for Canadians to vote.
“It might also indicate that people were pretty decided going into this election, revealed in the way that polls numbers have barely budged throughout the campaign,” he emphasized. “In other words, I think many people had already made their judgment on the current Trudeau government.”
Although the environment and climate change have been issues that have dominated this election across the country, Rowe said the issue of affordability is what’s top of mind locally.
“British Columbia voters are clearly concerned about the rising cost of living so I think that has been an important local issue, especially given high property values in the Lower Mainland, and in Langley, in particular,” he said.
However, in each election political parties depend on the ballots of a number of undecided voters, according to Rowe.
“About 60 per cent of voters are pretty loyal in their voting habits, so it’s all the others who decide elections… typically they vote in ways that reflect the polls, though sometimes we have a few surprises,” he said, referring back to rise of the Bloc Quebecois in the 1990s, the “Orange Wave” of NDP voters in the 2011 election, and the shift to the Liberals in the previous federal election.
But the youth vote is one that the parties shouldn’t rely on to earn them seats, according to Rowe.
“Political parties that count on the youth vote are typically disappointed,” he said. “Though many young voters are very engaged on the climate change issue, many are also a little disillusioned with the Trudeau government, which had a good deal of youth support last time around. I actually don’t expect the youth vote to be much different from the usual this time around.”
Should a minority government be decided this election, Rowe said it could possibly divide electors in B.C. in the future.
“A minority parliament will provide opportunities for smaller parties like the NDP and the Greens to be influential in the next couple of years,” he said. “That would divide British Columbians, some of whom would welcome their influence, while others will not be happy.”
Rowe said it is important to cast a ballot even if a candidate has little chance of winning.
“When everyone casts a vote, it tells us something about the actual support each party has and it sets directions for the next election,” he said. “Your vote always sends a political message, even if it does not elect a representative.”