Every media outlet in southern B.C. has expressed surprise over the last few weeks over the By-Election win in Chilliwack/Hope by the NDP and specifically by Gwen O’ Mahony.
Prior to the election of April 19th, some political “pundits” were predicting a win by either the BC Liberals or by the BC Conservatives. Only a few were giving the NDP much chance. They based their assumptions on the fact that the NDP had never won before in the Chilliwack area.
Such highly simplistic evaluations could be expected from political novices; however, one would expect a bit more thought from people who supposedly spend their lives in the political realm of BC politics.
However; these mistaken predictions paled in comparison to many of the more recent explanations as to why Gwen O’Mahony won in such a positive manner.
I could not believe what I was reading when I read that many media writers explained Gwen’s victory as a result of the so-called “right-wing split”. Many even went so far as to state that if there had not been a Conservative candidate that the Liberals would have won.
Such nonsensical statements ignore the hard reality of what has occurred in this area over the past three years and give no credence at all to the intelligence of the electorate.
I was personally very involved in all three of Gwen’s campaigns over the past three years. I was her campaign manager in 2009 and in 2001 and played a major role in this more recent by-election win. I know for a fact that there were at least three very powerful reasons why Gwen won this by-election- reasons that had nothing to do with the “right-wing split”.
First, Gwen has been a “canvassing machine” in three successive elections. She has personally knocked on over 30,000 doors since early 2009. I know, because I either accompanied her on most of those visits and/or personally planned every single canvassing effort.
Gwen was and is very able at the door and has the unique ability to get her message across quickly. People sense that she is a conscientious person- one really worth electing.
Secondly, this recent by-election brought to the local NDP a well-organized campaign like never seen before. There were several hundred volunteers who came out to ensure that the voters were contacted and our positive message was put forth. While the Liberals ran on a negative, attack campaign, the NDP message of a positive alternative resonated.
Thirdly, for the first time in history, the NDP matched the opposition financially. In the past, we often had to run a campaign on 10 per cent or so of what the BC Liberals had. This makes it very difficult to conduct proper newspaper advertising, radio ads or flyer distribution. For once, the NDP was on an equal par in these areas and our efforts paid off.
For any person to suggest that the Liberals would have won this by-election if there had not been a Conservative candidate is pure nonsense. I asked many of our canvassers what the issues were that they heard at the door. The constant refrain heard was an urgent need to get rid of the Liberals. It is very obvious that, if there had not been a Conservative candidate, the vast majority of the 25 per cent who voted Conservative would have either stayed home or voted for Gwen O’Mahony.
So, please- let’s put this fallacy to bed forever- the “right-wing” split was NOT the reason the NDP won in Chilliwack/Hope.
Dick Harrington- Chilliwack