Why These By-Elections are REALLY Important

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!

Harv Oberfeld

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19 Responses to Why These By-Elections are REALLY Important

  1. 13 says:

    I have slightly different reasons for my interest in the elections. I live in one of ridings and have had some buisness dealings with the “new” NDP cannidate in Moody Coq. As I am not a lawyer I doubt if I can outline my reasons but suffice to say in my opinion Mr Trassolini will likely win and the people of Moody Coq will regret their decision.
    Beyond my personal reasons I could never support people like Ujjal and Rae and all the others that cross the floor. All claim that the reasons are due to changes of attitude or to better serve their constituents. BS I say they simply want to further their careers by being in the limelight rather than a shadow cabinet. In some cases it might even be as distasteful as money.

    But regardless of the outcome the biggest shocker will be a Liberal win in either riding. Your right on Harvey every riding will be dissected by the order of the results. First second and third. Every senario has different implications.

    And I get to vote.

  2. Hans Goldberg says:

    You are right, if the Conservatives win in Chillisack, the big money is going to take a really hard look at the options.

  3. Keith says:

    Hi Harvey,

    I can see the conservatives pulling a rabbit out of the hat in Chilliwack. Given the dismal numbers of the liberals and cristy a liability, the usual spin ” oh it’s a by-election and it’s the general that counts blah blah blah” if a liberal doesn’t, do you think that the liberal brass will find a way to have a new leader before the election in 2013.?

    (Response: You would be surprised how fast a party can move…esp if a leader suddenly develops “health”, “family” or “personal” problems and has to step down. h.o)

  4. JR says:

    I predict the NDP will win Port Moody and the Conservatives will win Chilliwack. At that point the back room boys, the ones that really run the BCLiberal party, will get rid of Christy and get someone else in. I don’t think it will help though as the people of the Province are sick of this gang. I may be wrong but from reading your blog and a variety of others this is my belief. Even the MSM is starting to write about the failings of the Liberals although they do not dig like you and other bloggers. I live in the Liberal stronghold of Langley where my vote has been wasted for years but the mood here has changed over the past years since the last election. The people want truth in Government and they are tired of lies, obfuscation and spin.

    Keep up the great work Harvey and we are sure glad this is a retirement hobby for one of the last great reporters.

    (Response: What will be interesting…and probably predictable…is how the MSM will act during the campaign. I suspect they will regurgitate a lot of fear re the 90s NDP , which is fine as critique, but NOT if , at the same time, they totally give Clark and the Libs a pass on Campbell’s recrd, saying it is a “different” government now. h.o)

  5. thinkingboutit says:

    An interesting component that is missing in these by-elections is a strong independant candidate. I would have loved to have seen one show up just to keep all the parties on their toes.
    As for after these by-elections, I think that there will be a ton of the 90’s brought up but the NDP could deflect a lot of it by kicking Sahota out on his ass. I don’t know of anybody who wants that piece of garbage getting too close to any spare change, never mind provicial coffers.
    The question for the Liberals will be if there are any left at all. They will have to deal with the “liar” brand and that will be tough. Clark is not helping with this one at all. The words to describe her leadership just fails me. I have never seen anyone this enept. The liberals just don’t have anyone who isn’t so badly tainted so that it would change the way that people view them. Campbell fixed that.
    The conservatives could do a lot better than expected if they field a slate of people who are not carrying a bunch of baggage.
    Hopefully, as with the liberals, Smart, Palmer and a bunch more of the MSM need to lose their jobs. Perhaps there is an opening for writing about lawn bowling.
    Best watch out Harvey , Clark could be looking to hire your wife. lol

  6. Heartlands Teacher says:

    Hi Harvey!

    I so wish you were still part of our MSM, but I imagine you are enjoying your retirement. I guess I will have continue to get the “real” story from blogs.

    Since you have your finger on the political pulse, I would like to ask your opinion.

    The by-elections are called for the 19th. The BCTF vote for the continuation of job action (of the illegal persuasion) is set to happen on the 17th & 18th. Do you think this will be a factor? The last thing I want is to help the Christy Party in any way, shape, or form. It has been suggested that teachers voting for future action could help them in the by-elections.

    What do you think?

    (Response: I suspect the Liberals would love to use the teachers in the by-election or even the next general election…trying to corner the NDP as being “for” the teachers, while the Libs are “for” parents and the kids. So watch for a last minute appeal by the Libs to support the government and send a message to the teachers as the by-election approaches. As for retirement …loving it…including the ability to blog on politics, the media and anything that interests me. And will soon be taking another travel break…which i love doing most of all! Thanks. h.o)

  7. piker says:

    I predict the NDP will win both, with Conservatives coming in second in both. Trasolini, despite his numerous apparent development and business conflict of interests over the years, can’t seem to do wrong in Port Moody. He won’t last a term under Dix – he’ll either be kicked out of caucus or someone he’ll jump ship. Trasolini will get 44% of the vote.

    The BC Christy party will siphon of just enough support from the Conservatives to allow the NDP to come up the middle in Chilliwack and win with 37% of the vote.

  8. morry says:

    “NDP will win Port Moody and the Conservatives will win Chilliwack”

    i agree. the voters will not split out in Chilliwack as they know that they need to send a message to the liberals. In Port Moody Trasolini should prevail.

  9. Scotty on Denman says:

    It is axiomatic that if the BC Liberals lose the next general election and the public books are forensically examined, the news will be so bad they will never be elected again under any leader. Inasmuch as the two by-elections are harbingers of the next general election, the difference between the BC Liberals winning both or losing both will be whether they continue to spin their increasingly ham-handed policies or to abandon any pretence of public service and pillage the public weal like there’s no tomorrow.

    The BC Liberals would be better off if they lost both by-elections to the NDP since that wouldn’t much change the current parliamentary dynamic. But if the BC Conservatives win one of those seats, it’s a whole new ball game, one that would see voters, if not BC Liberal MLAs, seriously consider moving to the new party.

    When a governing party loses a by-election, which is most often the case, it usually blows it off as only a by-election. When The BC Liberals lose these two by-elections it will be a bye-bye election after which the pillaging will start in earnest.

  10. Stew says:

    All elections are RIGGED. The best way to deal with them is NEVER vote. If we all did this collectively I wonder what the figures would be? Highest turnout ever? LOL

  11. Henri says:

    Stew // Mar 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm #10
    In regards to your comment, huh ?????

  12. AJ says:

    Can you imagine the uproar if Christy jumped on Transit without paying??

  13. Henri says:

    225 pm, Van Dogn quits Liberals joins Conservatives

  14. DonGar says:

    First to move. Another one after the by-election and the end of CC?


  15. Henri says:

    Van Dogn quits #13
    Sorry about misspelling Van Dongen, I got excited as I watched him make the announcement right after Question period…

  16. John's Aghast says:

    What if Christy jumped ship?
    What if she called for an inquiry into BC Rail?
    I know, but everything is so bizarre in this topsy-turvey Alice In Wonderland world that I thought it would be fun to inject some fantasy into this sordid mess.
    And it won’t cost you a cent in gilt edged pensions ‘cuz I don’t got one!
    Enjoy the next year, or so.

  17. Canadian Malcontent says:

    BC Libs and BC Cons same old party. What is the difference other than the name?

  18. Gini says:

    AJ……can you imagine Christy jumping on transit? I can’t. Her entourage would cause a gridlock, and besides, she would never stoop that low. 🙂

    As to van Dongen’s belated defection, I say, ‘better late than never’. If he and his lawyer can expose all the players in the BC Rail scandal, I’ll even forgive him for siding with the salmon farmers. A guy with enough stones to stand up in the legislature and say what he did, deserves a second chance, IMO.

  19. IqRa says:

    I think perception is evhyrteing in BC politics. Truth be told, there was almost no meaningful policy differences between Clark and any of her rivals, but the media, desperate for a more interesting story, kept peddling the line that Kevin Falcon was the most “right wing”, Christy the most “liberal” and Abbott the most “centrist.” No examples ever provided of course, we were just supposed to take these labels at face value. And a lot of people, even within the party, really took these labels as god’s truth. I was at the convention yesterday and was amazed at the amount of venom the Falcon people have for Clark. They really truly believe that she is some far-left kook bag, even though she actually got a better rating from the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation than their boy (who added that none of the candidates were true fiscal conservatives).I’m a conservative myself, and I don’t consider the BC liberals to be particularly friendly to the right (being blindly pro-corporation does not unto itself a right-winger make), so I’m cool if many of the naive conservatives who have been backing Premier Campbell all these years wake up and realize that, hey, this is a LIBERAL government after all!But a Conservative Party? It really depends who the leader is. He’d have to come from somewhere other than the Liberals, and I’m not sure anyone, aside from maybe Vander Zalm, has the sort of political star power and independent track record necessary to kick-start a third-party uprising in this province.

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