BC’s Changing Electoral Map
Politics is a contact sport, and John Horgan’s NDP are playing for keeps.
They will stop at nothing to lock in their grip on power.
They’ve given a mandate to the Electoral Boundaries Commission that threatens to strip away rural representation.
People in the North, the Kootenays, and the central Interior are rightly enraged by a move to water down effective representation for families living and working across two-thirds of B.C.’s land mass.
Here’s the math of why that matters. Bear with me here. There are a lot of numbers but they tell a sobering story.
Right now, there are 87 seats in the Provincial Legislature.
BC Liberals hold 28 of those seats.
After every second election, an Electoral Boundaries Commission updates the electoral map in response to population changes. That will happen before the next provincial election.
Since 1979, 17 large but sparsely populated rural electoral districts that cover two thirds of BC’s land mass have been protected to ensure effective representation.
BC Liberals hold 13 of those 17 protected seats. That’s almost half of our 28 MLAs.
This time around, the NDP have amended legislation to remove protection of those 17 rural seats. That could mean reallocating, say, 6 seats to elsewhere in the province.
They’ve also directed the Commission to add up to 6 additional seats, which would mean 93 seats in the Legislature.
Rural British Columbians are very concerned about losing effective representation - it already takes days to drive across some ridings. A reduction in seats could lead to a court challenge.
Even so, a big shift in voting power from rural to urban and suburban BC is coming and we must be ready.
Where would 6 new seats and 6 reallocated seats go? They’d go where the population has been growing.
To simplify, let’s say one goes to downtown Kelowna, and one to the fast-growing Langford/West Shore area on Vancouver Island.
Up to 10 new seats could be added to the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, where we just got blown out in the last election. The BC Liberal tide has gone out so far that we lost Chilliwack and Langley and most of Richmond.
That wasn’t just because of John Horgan’s opportunistic pandemic snap election.
Things have changed over the last few election cycles. Rightly or wrongly, we have lost relevance and trust with urban and suburban voters, especially middle-of-the-road voters and the next generation of young people and families. In Vancouver - a canary in a coalmine - we went from 45% of the vote and 6 seats to 30% of the vote and 2 seats over the course of 3 elections.
Next election there could be 6 less rural seats and 10 more urban seats. We need to be prepared to win the next election on that electoral map.
I’m from Vancouver, but I’ll stand up for all of BC.
As the son of an engineer who worked in a downtown office, mines and dams put food on my plate growing up. I spent years working to build support for responsible resource development, get the nation-building Trans Mountain Expansion Project approved, and make sure local people got opportunities as a result.
As Western alienation rears its head again, the NDP don’t seem to care if they fan the flames of urban/rural division.
If we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. We can’t let them stack the deck.
Here’s the cold, hard reality.
No matter how successfully we push back on the NDP’s attempt to change the electoral playing field and strip away effective rural representation, the balance of power in BC will still keep shifting from rural to urban and suburban areas, based on population growth.
We need to prepare our party for the elections of the future.
To ensure rural BC has a voice in a BC Liberal government after the next election, we will need an even stronger performance in a diminished number of rural seats.
But we can't just defend - we also need to attack. We absolutely need to win back seats in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, and make inroads on Vancouver Island.
That’s where I come in.
Now more than ever, we need to build a bridge to the massive next-generation cohort of voters, which is younger, more urban, and more diverse than ever before. We don’t need to pick up our tent and move it to the left or to downtown Vancouver, but we sure do need to expand our tent if we don’t want this to become an NDP province for the foreseeable future.
If we ever want to form a government again, we’re going to need to turn the page on the baggage of the past, renew our appeal throughout the province, and build a bridge to the next generation of our natural voters: people and families who are working hard, playing by the rules, and striving to achieve the Canadian Dream.
That’s why I’m running to lead the BC Liberal Party, with a campaign that is bringing more young people and families into our voter coalition.
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