EDITORIAL: Start of the silly season

Thoughts on the North Island race as the provincial election begins

So it begins.

As of yesterday, Claire Trevena and every other Member of the Legislative Assembly of B.C. are out of a job.

One would be hard pressed to identify any other vocation that kicks you to the curb every four years, regardless of your performance, and forces you to lobby tens of thousands of people, just to get that same job again.

Regardless of political leanings, we should all salute those who show the courage to match their convictions by putting their names on a ballot for election.

But enough of the niceties.

The North Island seat will be an interesting one to watch for observers throughout the province. In 2013, NDP candidate Trevena won with 51 per cent of the vote to 42 per cent for B.C. Liberal Nick Facey and seven per cent for B.C. Conservative candidate Bob Bray. That looks like a wide margin, 51-42, but it represented a difference of fewer than 2,000 votes.

As Campbell River goes, so goes the riding, we get that. But just as there are swing states in U.S. presidential elections, swing ridings in Canadian federal elections and swing constituencies in B.C. provincial elections, there may be swing communities in the North Island.

Trevena had a slight edge in both Port Hardy and Port Alice in 2013. Port McNeill was basically a dead heat. Trevena took Alert Bay and Tsulquate handily, by like a margin of 10 to one, but the total amount of votes cast was small in comparison to the larger centres.

OK, we’ll say it. Will it matter that the B.C. Liberal candidate this time, Dallas Smith, is an indigenous person? We’d like to believe a candidate’s cultural background means nothing in a provincial election, and it shouldn’t (doesn’t to us), but that does sound a tad naive, especially in a constituency with thousands of indigenous people.

Also, there was no Green Party candidate on the North Island ballot in 2013 and this year there is — Sue Moen. Does that change the dynamic? Everyone has a chance to win, but, realistically, will Moen’s presence take votes away from Trevena like the B.C. Conservative candidate likely did from the B.C. Liberal in 2013 (Bray garnered 1,675 votes)?

As with all elections in B.C., the headlines will be dominated by the leaders and province-wide issues. We know many voters, regardless of where they live, vote for the party and/or leader instead of focusing on the local candidates. It’s our hope the North Island candidates leave the bulk of the province-wide debate to the leaders and focus on issues of the people and region they want to represent. And that doesn’t mean just taking the leader’s speaking points of the day and giving them local flavour.

Minus the corruption and the way-too-socialist leanings, we wouldn’t mind seeing an old-fashioned Huey Long-type campaign full of specific promises. Say what you want about the Kingfish of Louisiana of the 1920s and 1930s, he built schools and roads, paid attention to the remote areas of his state and, most appealingly, could not be reigned in or told what to do by any political party.

The most important thing all of us can do is actually vote on May 9. Only 57 per cent of registered voters did that here in 2013. We endeavour to help you make an informed choice. Today we present bios of the candidates and, in the next few printed editions, and online at www.northislandgazette.com, we will present stories about what the candidates say about local issues, along with information about where and when to vote.

— Editorial by John Harding

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