BRITISH COLUMBIA

BC Election 2013: Tofino Couple Boycotts Ballot Box

04/24/2013 07:55 EDT | Updated 06/24/2013 05:12 EDT
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VANCOUVER - Don't be surprised if Wayne Adams and Catherine King boycott the ballot box on May 14.

The full-time artists who live on a floating garden near Tofino, B.C., say they won't even bother to cast their ballots next month because no political party reflects their philosophy of shared wealth and their disdain for "corruption."

Yet, the couple who calls the small inlet of Freedom Cove home said they understand why many people from Victoria to Port Hardy still participate in the democratic process and continue to send a majority of New Democratic MLAs to the legislature.

"We feel that the people who live on the island are more to the left as there are a lot of artists on the island and a lot of people who have come here looking for a lifestyle that is closer to the Earth," said the couple, who have no telephone, in a joint email to The Canadian Press.

"Many of them have done long years living in a capitalist and materialistic manner and are tired of it and tired of its lack of consideration for nature and the health and well-being of all of us."

Certainly, Vancouver Island is no friend to the B.C. Liberal Party.

Before Premier Christy Clark visited Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon in Victoria on April 16 to dissolve the legislature and kick off the 28-day campaign, the NDP held 10 of Vancouver Island's 14 seats.

And with the exception of the 2001 election, the story's remained fairly consistent since 1996, when the NDP held 10 of the island's 13 seats, leaving the Liberals with just three.

Five years later, the NDP was annihilated, winning none of the island's ridings, but by 2005 they'd scratched their way out of political purgatory to claim nine seats compared to the Liberals' four.

"I think a lot of it has to do with the economy and the sort of presence or absence of unions," said Hamish Telford, the head of the political science department at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Communities where the logging industry has been strong have also been vital to the NDP because of the related unions and their organizational support.

Telford said he expects the NDP to win the election as well because the Liberals have held power for 12 years and the party has used up its political capital, pointing to blunders like the 2012 budget when the government projected a $500-million deficit that eventually ballooned to about $2 billion.

"People felt duped and very, very angry," he said.

Michael Prince, a professor of social policy at the University of Victoria, agrees, noting the NDP has been polling above 50 per cent on Vancouver Island, well above the provincial average.

"It's very difficult nowadays to win a fourth election anywhere in Canada," he said.

"You just accumulate a lot of baggage. There's inevitable disappointments, and contradictions and scandals. I mean, you stay in power that long, these things just accumulate."

The Island tends to have more central-left political inclinations anyway, he added, because of the logging, lumber and coal-mining industries.

Communities on the south Island near Victoria, he added, tend not to identify with the Liberals because their residents are affluent, urban, progressive and social democratic.

While he doesn't see the Green Party of B.C. winning a seat, Prince said the party could draw away Liberal votes.

If one Liberal MLA from the Island is to survive the election, he said, the lucky member may be Ida Chong, the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation.

"Ida's a fighter," he said. "She's a survivor. She's got a good base of an organization here."

Divorced from the debate, Adams and King tend to their Freedom Cove floathouse that includes five greenhouses, a generator building, and a half-acre of garden where they grow vegetables, fruit trees, berry bushes, edible flowers, herbs and decorative plants and flowers.

After leaving Tofino more than two decades ago because it was too expensive, the couple earns a living by carving, making candles and painting. In January, they were finally connected to the Internet.

It's not surprising then that the most important election issues for the couple are First Nations and the environment, followed by taxation, health care, education and employment.

Adams and King said none of the parties, unfortunately, "speaks the truth" or follows through on promises, so neither of them votes.

"We are extremely frustrated with this capitalistic democracy," they said. "We think that it is a farce and a sham."

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