Only six months until British Columbians get to vote!



April 12, 2024
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The next provincial election in British Columbia is exactly six months away and so it is time to get to work!

But why? Why prepare for an election six months away from now?

There are two connected reasons:

  • BC may be going through a once-in-a-generation political shift right now, and  
  • This is the time to influence local nomination races and get to know local candidates.

With an election in view, there are great opportunities for people who are willing to put in a little time and effort to make a big political difference.

BC’s Political Shift

For those who don’t follow BC politics much, there have been two main parties vying for government over BC’s history, sometimes with smaller or more fringe parties trying to get a few seats as well. But approximately once in a generation, the political landscape shifts. A political party (or multiple parties) collapses, leading to a new political situation and new opportunities for change.

The first generational shift happened in the 1940s. Up to that point in BC history, the Conservatives and Liberals took turns governing British Columbia (something that we’re used to seeing in the federal government, though the parties are not actually connected). But as the socialist NDP grew in power throughout the 1930s and 1940s, both the Conservatives and Liberals were so concerned about the NDP winning government that they formed a coalition government from 1945-1952 to keep the NDP out. When that coalition fractured, a new party initially combining some strange collectivist economic theories with more traditional conservative politics – the Social Credit Party – appeared and governed BC for the majority of four decades. The Liberals and Conservatives eventually became extinct, making the NDP the sole opposition to the SoCreds, as they were called.

The second generational shift happened in the 1990s, when the Social Credit Party collapsed. A combination of spending nearly 40 years in government and the rise of the Reform party and movement on the federal level shocked the provincial political scene. The SoCreds collapsed in the 1990s, with the party’s former supporters migrating to the resuscitated Liberal party. While center-right voters figured out how to reorganize themselves under the Liberal party banner, the NDP governed BC for 8 years before the center-right Liberal party took back government in 2001.

We are in the midst of a third generational shift. After badly losing the 2021 election, the Liberals, who were traditionally made up of a mix of federal Liberal and Conservative voters, picked a new leader and changed their name to BC United. Unfortunately for them, there is little unity in that party. Chilliwack Liberal MLA Laurie Throness was kicked out of the party in 2020 for his socially conservative views. Nechako Lakes Liberal MLA John Rustad was also kicked out of the party for a combination of his views on climate change and his lack of cooperation within the party in 2022. In 2023, Abbotsford BC United (formerly BC Liberal) MLA Bruce Banman also left the party.

Rustad and Banman joined the defunct BC Conservatives, giving the party its largest number of seats in the legislature in 48 years. With the BC Conservatives back in the legislature with two MLAs and official party status (which gives them extra resources and allows them to ask a question like this one every question period), the party’s popularity has grown. This dovetails with a surge in the popularity in BC of the federal Conservatives under Pierre Poilievre. Most of their support has come at the expense of BC United, as shown in a recent by-election on Vancouver Island where the BC Conservatives displaced BC United for second place in the riding.

According to 338Canada (a poll aggregator and seat projector), the BC NDP are comfortably ahead in the polls with 42%. The BC Conservatives are in second with 25% of the vote, and BC United in third with 19%. (The BC Greens have 11%). With center-right voters split between the BC Conservatives and BC United, this would likely give the NDP a massive majority if an election were held today. (The current seat projection by 338Canada suggests that the NDP would win 67 seats, the BC Conservatives 20 seats, BC United 4 seats, and the BC Greens 2 seats with this level of support.)

This leaves BC at a crossroads. Will center-right votes continue to be split between the BC Conservatives and BC United and give the BC NDP a massive majority? Forget about policies for a second. One party winning 72% of the seats and having the next two largest parties fighting among themselves for second place isn’t good for parliamentary democracy. Opposition parties are supposed to be robust and hold the governing party to account. If they fail on this account, we temporarily become a one-party state.

Or will center-right voters coalescence around either the BC Conservatives or BC United? The BC Conservatives have the momentum right now, but BC United has incumbent MLAs, organizational structure, a track record, and money at its back. BC is also the only province to have a provincial Christian Heritage Party, giving you an opportunity to vote for a distinctly Christian candidate.

This is where you come in. You could simply sit on the fence for the next five months and decide which party you like best or has the best chance of winning then. But the more effective strategy is to decide which party to throw your support behind. All the parties need volunteers, donations, and even candidates to run for election. And they each need people to inform their friends and family members about the new political situation and help them to decide who to vote for.

Get Involved Now!

While the election is still six months away, there are many opportunities to get politically involved now. While voting every four years is the most common way to participate in a democracy, there are a lot more (and a lot more impactful!) ways to make your voice heard if you are willing to make the effort. Here’s what you can do:

  • Get to know your local political candidates. While Elections BC does publish a live list of candidates that have officially registered to run in the next election, many candidates are slow in submitting their candidacy papers even after they’ve won a local nomination race. For a more up to date list of who your local candidates are, visit each party’s website. The BC NDP have only nominated 3 candidates so far, the BC Conservatives 57 candidates, BC United 45 candidates, and the BC Greens 12 candidates. Even if a candidate is running for your preferred party, that doesn’t necessarily mean that that they share your Christian values or, even if they do share them, that they are passionate enough about these values to actively champion the causes you care about. Ask them where they stand on issues like abortion, euthanasia, or gender transitioning and ask if they would actively seek to pass the laws that we so desperately need.
  • If your area doesn’t have a candidate for your preferred party yet, join that party and vote in the nomination race for your preferred candidate. To read more about why these nomination races matter, read our recent article about nomination races.
  • Volunteer in a nomination race.
  • Donate to your preferred political party. British Columbians get a generous tax deduction for political donations. You receive a 75% tax credit on contributions up to $100, a 50% tax credit for contributions between $100 and $550, and a 33.3% tax credit for contributions in excess of $550. That works out to up to $500 back out of a contribution of up to $1,268. At the very least, send $100 to a political party. You’ll help your preferred party, and you’ll get $75 back on your next tax return. (Read more about how money works in BC politics.)
  • Commit to volunteering in the upcoming election period (September to October). That’s when parties and candidates need the most help getting elected.
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