By-elections are not easy for governments: that’s why they often delay calling them as long as possible.
And Canadian political traditions and practices are to blame.
Anyone who watches the Canadian electoral process … whether provincial or federal … knows how it usually works: political parties promise us Heaven on earth ..all kinds of improvements, new programs and lower taxes…. IF we would just elect them.
Of course, when we do that… what we get soon after they’re elected, is … traditionally … just the opposite. They sock it to us … program cuts, higher taxes and fees … saying they didn’t really know, until they saw the books, how bad things were , and thus, they blame the previous evil government for our newly-imposed misery and suffering.
And miracle of miracles … they then, with their supposedly GREAT administration, turn things around! Just in time to hand out all kinds of promised goodies just before we vote again! Hallelujah!!
You can laugh at this …or cry… but the truth is IT WORKS. Canadians fall for this over and over again … almost conditioning the politicians NOT to tell us the truth during election campaigns, but to play the game exactly as we expect.
The problem for governments, however, is when by-elections occur … usually in or beyond mid-term, but before most of the goodies have started to flow … although a local bribe (project or funding announcement or two) often ingratiates the lucky communities going to the polls.
But by-elections catch most voters when they’re “not amused” … having suffered through the punishment first phase of the government’s term: a perfect opportunity to “let them have it back”.
That’s why the Opposition so often wins by-elections.
So in the case of the recently-announced April 19 by-elections in Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope a Liberal victory would be REALLY surprising … and a boost to the long-depressed fortunes of Christy Clark and her un-elected government.
Most might expect the NDP to win … sending “a message” to the Liberals and giving Adrian Dix and the Opposition a thumbs up vote of confidence, seemingly boding well for the future. (Although history has often shown by-election wins are no guarantee of attainment of power in a general election that follows… after the goodies flow.)
However, these by-elections will be REALLY important and different: because the party to watch is the Conservatives!
Just think of what a game-changer it could be if the new BC Tory party pulled even one of these off!
Clark would be in VERY BIG TROUBLE within her own caucus ….and, more importantly, with the power base and major funding sources behind the Liberal party. Even if the backrooms are soundproofed, the thumps and bumps and pressures to dump will be heard around the province.
Even Dix would have to rethink positions and policies … although there would be absolutely no internal revolt so close to the general election.
John Cummins and his Conservatives stand to be the big winner: not just if he wins even one of the two races, but even if the NDP wins and his party comes second … pushing the Liberals into the third place.
This is why I love politics.
The party I support at any given time (it really does vary) need not win for me to really enjoy the process: sometimes seeing who comes second is even more interesting.
They’re just by-elections … but I can hardly wait!