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Posted: October 19, 2019

B.C. voters may get the last laugh in this election

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

I don’t know about you, but one thing I know for sure about me is I’m glad this gruesome election is almost over. But don’t despair! The best may be yet to come for all of us fortunate enough to live in B.C.

You’ll know what I’m talking about when you snuggle up to your TV Monday night because the damn outcome may still be unsettled by the time the network talking heads breathlessly start analyzing the B.C. results. What a turnaround that will be!

As per usual, the key to the last-minute drama is being set in Quebec. Prior to the beginning of this nasty campaign the script for Quebec had already been written. The NDP would lose most of its 15 seats – possibly all of them – and the two major parties would gobble them up, especially the Liberals. This would ensure a Liberal victory though not necessarily a majority as the Conservatives have polled well in Quebec in the past.

But the script was wrong. The backroom strategists crunching numbers in both major parties overlooked two possibilities and one of them they should have seen coming – the resurgence of the Bloc Quebecois.

The Bloc once held almost all of the federal seats in Quebec and was the official opposition in Ottawa. How quickly we forget! Fuelled by simmering separatist sentiment, which never quite dies in La Belle Province, the Bloc is on the march according to the latest polls and threatens to take seats away from all the federal parties in Quebec and that could be the pivot on which this dismal election turns.

The other overlooked possibility was the strong performance of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, the only leader seen as “authentic” by many voters and who actually rose in the polls as the campaign unfolded.

In this election, both the Conservatives and the Liberals, especially the Liberals, were counting on winning as many seats as possible in Quebec, mainly at the expense of the NDP. In the 2011 federal election, the NDP under the inspired leadership of Jack Layton and his “Orange Wave” won 59 seats in the province surprising everyone including the pundits. But the pundits may be in for another surprise this time around because according to the polls the Bloc is now running neck-and-neck with the Liberals in Quebec and that will torpedo any chances of the Liberals winning a majority.

And keep in mind that Quebec voters are notorious for voting “en masse.” When they change their minds on voting it’s usually a huge change.

So, where does that leave us? For starters, the result on Monday will almost certainly be a minority government with no party gaining the magic 170 seats for a majority. That minority could either be Liberal or Conservative depending on what happens in Quebec, but I’d be willing to bet two cents the Liberals take it. Consequently, if it’s close when the B.C. results start to pour in you may want to brew another pot of coffee to be around for the final bitter results. And what a change that will be for excitement-starved voters in B.C.

And what might happen in Kootenay-Columbia? I thought you’d never ask. I’d bet my other two cents on the incumbent in a local campaign that was so dull the biggest issue seemed to be whether one of the major candidates lived in the riding or somewhere else. Incumbency usually triumphs in a dull campaign but a strong Green Party vote in Nelson could change the result.

As for politics in general, I think former Russian President Nikita Khrushchev said it best: “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge where even there’s no water.”

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who develops an extreme feeling of ennui very time he writes about politics.

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