POLITICS

BC Election: Another Major Incumbent Victory In Vancouver, But City Isn't Attached To Status Quo

11/22/2011 09:23 EST | Updated 11/22/2011 12:12 EST
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Gregor Robertson continued the winning ways of Canada’s incumbents over the weekend, being re-elected as Vancouver’s mayor.

Mr. Robertson captured 53 per cent of votes cast and all seven of his Vision Vancouver Party candidates won their council seats, with the remaining three going to opposition parties.

After the federal Conservative victory in May and the re-election of sitting governments in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan this fall, Gregor Robertson makes it 7-0 for incumbents in major elections in 2011.

But the thirst for the status quo is not ubiquitous among Vancouverites. Not even a fresh take on the party in charge has improved the fortunes of the governing B.C. Liberals.

Though Vancouver voted Mr. Robertson and his Vision Vancouver Party in for another term, the city’s residents would not do the same for their provincial government.

In the 2009 provincial election, the B.C. Liberals under Gordon Campbell won the majority of seats both in and around Vancouver. In the city itself, the B.C. Liberals took 46 per cent of the vote to the NDP’s 44 per cent. The NDP under former leader Carole James was also defeated in the suburbs, winning only 41 per cent of the vote to the Liberals’ 48 per cent.

Both Mr. Campbell and Ms. James are gone, replaced earlier this year by Christy Clark and Adrian Dix, respectively. But Ms. Clark would not receive the same support from Vancouverites and their suburban neighbours in a new election.

The two latest provincial polls out of British Columbia were taken between the end of September and the beginning of November and both indicate the New Democrats are on track to form the province’s next government. The two polls also suggest the city that just re-elected its mayor is switching sides provincially.

In Metro Vancouver, Ipsos-Reid gives the NDP a 10-point edge over the B.C. Liberals with 45 per cent to 35 per cent support. Angus-Reid gives them a 12-point lead with 43 per cent to 31 per cent. Taken together, this is a major change in support since the 2009 election, when the B.C. Liberals took about 49 per cent of the vote in and around Vancouver.

With the governing Liberals on the ropes in Vancouver, Gregor Robertson’s re-election in the city cannot be chalked up to the wave of incumbency that has swept across Canada in 2011. The next election in British Columbia is not scheduled until May 2013, but being this far behind in such a crucial battleground is bad news for the Liberals, particularly when Vancouver’s residents have just shown they have no problem with the status quo.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.