The federal election campaign is gearing up and there is the looming possibility that B.C. could crown a victor.
It is conceivable that by the time we determine how B.C.’s 42 seats are claimed, neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives will have won enough seats in the rest of the country to form a majority government.
This kind of scenario has been predicted before and has fallen flat on its face. In 2015, a huge victory by the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals seemed almost certain while British Columbians were still at polling stations.
But perhaps on Oct. 21, B.C. will truly prove to be a kingmaker. If so, about 16 or so ridings will prove to be the keys to victory for either of the major parties (as well, B.C. riding results may have a disproportionately large impact on the very future of the other two parties – the Greens and the NDP).
Barring some kind of seismic shift in voting patterns, about half the ridings are won by the same party every election. The NDP owns most of Vancouver Island and the east side of Vancouver, the Liberals are strongest in the west side of Vancouver and some of its suburbs, and the Conservatives are always strong in the North and the Interior.
But every election is different in some way and this fall is shaping up to be a fascinating race.
Can the Liberals hang onto ridings seemingly won because of that wave of Trudeaumania that swept the country in 2015, but seems to have ebbed considerably since then?
I’m referring to ridings in the Okanagan, Surrey, Delta, Langley and even North Vancouver – all areas once dominated by the Conservatives. Will those seats revert back to the Conservative fold, or is there enough lingering Trudeaumania to keep them with the Liberals?
As for the NDP, the party looks like it is about to take a beating at the hands of the voters in the rest of Canada, particularly in Quebec. However, things look a lot brighter for it in this province.
It is hard to see the party losing its traditional strongholds on Vancouver Island, with the possible exception of Victoria, where its popular incumbent MP Murray Rankin is not running again.
Over coffee last week, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told me his party is also hoping to win a couple of seats in Surrey. That could stand as the party’s biggest accomplishment on election night.
As for the Greens, any momentum the party seemed to have in public opinion appears to be slipping, although party leader Elizabeth May seems to be a lock on her Vancouver Island seat.
So the table is set for B.C. determining, potentially at least, whether or not either the Liberals or the Conservatives form a majority come the fall.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.