BRITISH COLUMBIA

BC Election Campaign, NDP, Liberals Suffer Bumpy Start, But NDP Remain On Top

04/22/2013 01:17 EDT | Updated 04/22/2013 05:33 EDT
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The first week of the election campaign in British Columbia may not have been a great one for either the NDP’s Adrian Dix or the Liberals’ Christy Clark – but it's the New Democrats who have time on their side.

The Liberals cannot afford to lose a week on the campaign trail. Trailing the NDP by between 15 and 20 points, the party needs to make up four to five points per week if they are to close the gap and have any hope of victory on May 14. Though it was a bumpy start for Dix, there was nothing close to moving the dial as much as Clark desperately needs.

And, as Keith Baldrey of Global News recently pointed out, it is likely that few British Columbians were paying attention to the minor stumbles the NDP campaign suffered in the first place.

The first voting intentions poll conducted since the writ dropped has yet to be released. But a survey by Ipsos-Reid published Friday suggests that Clark is in trouble: 36 per cent said that the New Democrats had the best start, compared to only 25 per cent who thought Clark’s Liberals had done best in the opening days of the campaign. Excluding the undecideds, that margin increases to 52 per cent to 36 per cent in Dix’s favour.

The BC Greens had arguably a better week than either the New Democrats or Liberals – at least considering their smaller stakes. The attention focused on whether they might actually be able to win a seat or two, a discussion that cannot be said to have occurred about the

Conservatives, the other small party in the race. One is hard-pressed to find a seat in which the Conservatives stand as good a chance as the Greens do in some of the Victoria-area ridings.

Round One, then, has to go to Dix - even if only by default. The campaign got off to a bit of a rocky start when the Liberals revealed that the NDP’s candidate in the riding of Kelowna-Mission - Dayleen Van Ryswyk - had posted some offensive comments to a website a few years ago. Dix reacted quickly and ensured the candidate would not be on the ballot as a New Democrat (she has decided to run as an independent). The damage was limited, but it was still the only things the press were talking about on Day One.

Similarly, an NDP letter that went out to B.C. businesses which the Liberals equated to a “shakedown” does not fit in with how the NDP is perceived in the province. The New Democrats plan to get rid of corporate donations anyway and few British Columbians consider the NDP to be in the pocket of big business.

If this is the best that the Liberals can do (they may be holding on to something for later in the campaign, of course) then there is little need for Dix to worry. At worst, the letter shows the NDP to be arrogant and the ex-candidate’s comments might suggest the party to be unprepared, but these are minor events. If the race was closer, Clark might have been able to weave them into a narrative portraying the NDP as not ready for government. But right now, this is unlikely to cut it.

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

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