The big guns are rolling in to Chilliwack as B.C. political parties prepare for a byelection battle here in the Chilliwack-Hope riding.
B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins checked out the political landscape in Chilliwack and Hope on Monday, and Premier Christy Clark is scheduled to meet privately with members of the Chilliwack/Fraser Rotary Club on Wednesday.
Cummins told The Progress he is “not surprised” to see the Premier in Chilliwack, probably doing just what he is — testing the political waters for “critical local issues” that could make the difference between a byelection win or loss.
“The BC Liberals are on a bit of a downward slope right now, and it wouldn’t look well on them not to do well in this byelection,” Cummins said.
“I think they’ll put considerable resources into it to try and get a victory out of it.”
BC Liberals may also fall back on fear tactics like the threat of splitting the conservative vote to hold onto the riding, but Cummins dismissed such a political ploy.
He said a BC Conservative candidate here can win the byelection without touching the BC Liberals’ voter base by drawing support from the 48 percent who didn’t vote in the last provincial election.
“We’re drawing support from those folks who stayed home because they didn’t like the choices that were out there,” he said. “Now they’re coming to us.”
No splitting of the conservative vote needed.
In fact, Cummins said that without the BC Conservatives in the 2013 province-wide election, a majority NDP government would be a slam-dunk.
With the BC Conservative Party in the race, the “best” the NDP could muster would be a minority government, he said.
“By 2013 we’re going to be the guys to beat,” Cummins said. “It will be ours for the taking.”
The BC Liberals have yet to announce a candidate for the byelection, after Diane Janzen withdrew her name because her conservative credentials might have been tainted after she ran as a federal Liberal in the last federal election.
Dennis Adamson, Yale electoral area director for the Fraser Valley Regional District, announced his bid for the NDP nomination back in April.
The BC Conservatives have set a Jan. 17 date for its nomination meeting, but no location has been selected.
Career criminologist and media columnist John Martin has announced his bid for the BC Conservative nomination.
Cummins said more candidates are waiting in the wings, but none have filed nomination papers so far.
He said the BC Liberals’ record is “the millstone they have to carry” going into the byelection, a record that includes the HST “debacle” and the growing deficit coupled with increasing taxes.
He said housing contractors in the Okanagan are reporting new house construction has fallen off as people are holding onto their money anticipating tax savings when the HST if finally removed.
“I imagine the same impact is felt in this area,” he said. “That’s what we’re here (in Chilliwack) to find out.”
Cummins also said despite BC Liberal claims of the lowest personal income taxes in Canada, the total in fees like ICBC insurance rates, carbon and gas taxes, make BC the “highest taxed province west of Quebec.”
The recent ICBC rate increased was blamed by the government on the increasing cost of accident claims, but Cummins said “the reality is it’s going up because the government is sucking money out of the corporation.”
No byelection date has been set.