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

Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nation drafts first phase of passive housing project

The housing project will have 96 residential units for low-income families.

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation requests land from Port Hardy Council

“The foundation members will be coming to council with more information at a future date.”

Mayoral candidate David Stewart steps away from Port Alice election

Port Alice has unlikely chance of holding a by-election early next year.

‘Cell Phone Service on the Island Highway’ campaign calls for better coverage along Island Highway

“There’s a possibility of various accidents, especially during the winter.”

North Island Peewee Eagles bring home silver medals from Thanksgiving tourney

With the game tied 5-5, the Eagles came up just short in a shootout.

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

GUEST COLUMN: A better way to manage B.C.’s public construction

Claire Trevena responds to Andrew Wilkinson on NDP union policy

B.C. brewery creates bread beer from food waste

The brew aims to raise food waste awareness and provide funds for the food bank

Dad files Charter challenge after B.C. bans kids from taking transit unsupervised

Adrian Crook is taking his fight to B.C. Supreme Court

B.C. VIEWS: Cast your municipal vote for sanity on homelessness

Thousands on waiting list while anti-capitalist bullies get priority

Police investigate alleged arson at Toronto hotel housing asylum seekers

Police believe the fire was started intentionally, but they have not spelled out a possible motive

Most Read