Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal Conservatives are going back to the polls to seek a new mandate after their minority government was defeated Friday.

Tories eye B.C. seat gains but also have weaknesses

Federal election now underway all about confidence: Pundit

Trust will be the dominant theme of the federal election campaign now underway, predicts a veteran B.C. political observer.

SFU political scientist Patrick Smith said the Conservatives will argue only they can be counted on to carefully steer the economy through a still-fragile recovery and assure stability.

Opposition parties, meanwhile, will contend Canadians shouldn’t trust the Tories – particularly so far as to give them a majority – because they tried to hide the full costs of the government’s crime-fighting agenda and F-35 fighter jet purchases.

The minority government fell on a non-confidence motion Friday when MPs voted 156-145 to find the Tories in contempt of Parliament. Election day will be May 2.

“We will hear a lot about U.S.-style mega-prisons and the whole idea that you can’t trust their numbers,” Smith said. “Lines like ‘Do you want fighter jets to fly around the Arctic or get all seniors out of poverty in Canada?'”

Conservatives will play the economic card, he said, painting New Democrats and Liberals as blocking a budget that was poised to aid seniors in order to spark an election.

Smith said he believes Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to trigger the election by tabling a budget carefully calculated so other parties couldn’t support it.

“More than any party, the Conservatives wanted this election,” he said. “I think they looked at the polls and said ‘We’re at 39 per cent – we can grow to 42 per cent and get a majority.'”

Fears will be stoked about what Harper would do with a majority, he said, and, conversely, the spectre of the other parties forming a coalition government.

The Conservatives need 11 more seats across the country to win a majority and some of them could come from B.C.

Tory strategists hope to recapture Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, where Liberal MP Keith Martin has retired.

Smith said they are also likely to aim at ridings with narrow margins in the last federal vote, such as Liberal health critic Ujjal Dosanjh’s Vancouver South riding.

They’ll also hope to reclaim former Conservative ridings, like Newton-North Delta, held by Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal.

Depending on the part of the Lower Mainland, the battle may not be Liberal-Conservative but Liberal-NDP or even NDP-Conservative.

While the Conservatives hope to make gains, they will also be under threat in some areas.

Smith said Tory MP Nina Grewal (Fleetwood-Port Kells) is “pretty low profile” and and Dona Cadman (Surrey North) could also be vulnerable.

“Just as the Conservatives are thinking we can pick up Esquimalt, there will be people in the New Democrat and Liberal war rooms thinking, ‘We can take this from the Conservatives.'”

Tory incumbents in the two North Shore ridings may also be in for a battle, he said.

Even traditional Conservative strongholds could be in play because of missteps, in come cases due to the whirlwind pace of nomination meetings.

In Delta-Richmond East – held by John Cummins until he opted to pursue provincial politics – Conservative candidate Dale Saip has stepped down over financial problems in his past.

There’s been dissatisfaction among local Tories in some ridings, including Okanagan-Coquihalla and Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, where complaints are being aired that accelerated nominations weren’t fair. In some cases, disgruntled Tories are vowing to run as independents.

And in South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, some Conservatives weren’t happy the party refused to allow a nomination challenge of incumbent MP Russ Hiebert, who faced a partial revolt of his riding association executive last year.

Now two ex-Conservatives are running against him – one is a former White Rock mayor running for the Liberals  and the other calls himself an “independent conservative.”

“Suddenly, you could gift a constituency to a third party that never before had a chance of winning,” Smith said.

Some seats will likely change hands in B.C., but Smith said at this point he’d have to bet on another minority government.

“The Conservatives have a shot at the majority,” he said. “It’s doable. But everything has to break their way.”

 

 

Patrick Smith            

Just Posted

VIDEO: Chilliwack students and staff perform with Steven Point

Chilliwack secondary school students and staff perform song written by former Lieutenant Governor

Chilliwack maternity ward closure narrowed to two weeks

Fraser Health says they’ve found a solution to an expected 13-week shortage of obstetricians

Pioneer Park playground opens for fun and play

The $160,000 playground is wheelchair accessible and funded partly through grants

After 30 years, Agassiz’s Miss Marge set to retire from Variety Play

From 1989 to today, Miss Marge has taken generations of kids through the district play program

RCMP believe Missing Hope teenager was headed to Chilliwack

Keely Reeze Loewen, 18, last in contact with a family member on June 13

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

B.C. oil tanker ban squeaks through final vote in Senate

Bill C-48 bars oil tankers from loading at ports on B.C’s north coast

Teens have privacy rights, doctor tells inquest into B.C. boy’s opioid death

Elliot Eurchuk died of a drug overdose. He was found unresponsive in his bedroom in April 2018

’When thunder roars, go indoors’: How to keep safe before lightning strikes

Each year, an estimated 10 deaths and as many as 164 injuries are lightning-related

B.C. rolls out online registration to speed up evacuee processing

Central Okanagan district tests province’s streamlined emergency management digital self-registration

VIDEO: After 73 years, siblings separated by adoption reunite in B.C

Donna Smith of Abbotsford and Clayton Myers of Williams Lake are glad they met each other

NHL Draft 2019: First-round mock selections

Hughes expected to go No. 1 overall; Canucks have 10th pick

New Westminster police seek video of fight between two teens

Police responded to a fight at Pier Park in the early hours of June 14

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Most Read