British Columbians are set to head back to the polls for another provincial election before the year is out, and a new poll suggests they may be confronted with a restructured political landscape when they do so.
The polling comes just as BC United launches a massive media blitz, running television and radio ads across British Columbia, aimed at introducing people both to the new party name and to leader Kevin Falcon.
Falcon spearheaded the name change last year, which saw the former BC Liberals take on a new name, new logo and new colour scheme.
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“It’s branding for the party, it’s branding for the message,” Falcon told Global News.
“Our message is going to be about the cost-of-living crisis, the crime crisis, the health-care crisis and how we have a plan to fix it.”
The Research Co. poll found 46 per cent of respondents would back the governing NDP if an election were held today, followed by 25 per cent for the BC Conservatives, 17 per cent for BC United and 11 per cent for the BC Greens.
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More worrying for BC United, however, appears to be an erosion among their traditional supporters: just 41 per cent of 2020 BC Liberal voters surveyed said they would stick with the rebranded party.
“It’s a significantly low number and we see a lot of those voters from the centre-right looking at the BC Conservatives as an option,” Research Co. president Mario Canseco said.
“There is definitely a situation where the level of connectivity we used to have from the BC Liberal leader is no longer there under the BC United brand.”
Canseco said the silver lining for the official Opposition party was that while younger and middle-aged right-leaning voters are pulling away to the Conservatives, those over the age of 55 appear to be sticking with BC United.
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“So there is a bit of a ray of hope because when know the over 55s tend to vote more than their younger counterparts,” he said.
Falcon, however, believes that with the election still more than 10 months away, voters aren’t really focusing on politics yet — giving the party plenty of time to connect.
“We are just starting our campaign now. Come talk to me in a couple of months and people are not paying a lot of attention right now,” he said.
“People want to elect some people who are genuinely there for the right reasons and have the courage to innovate, to change things, to drive the results — we’re not getting the results in child care, we’re not getting the results in HC, we’re not getting results in crime on our streets.”
Meanwhile, there appears to be a shakeup of another variety taking place on Vancouver Island.
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BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau announced Wednesday she would not run again in the Cowichan Valley, and will instead challenge for the riding of Victoria-Beacon Hill — currently held by Child and Family Development Minister Grace Lore.
“I have defied expectations in every election and that will be intention in this election again,” she told media.
Furstenau has represented the Cowichan Valley since 2017. The riding has undergone a boundary change since the 2020 election, with some of its eastern communities now included in a different district.
She said she was “surprised” by the boundary changes but the decision to run in Victoria is rooted in her desire to be closer to her family.
So far, the Greens have nominated 11 candidates for the upcoming October election.
BC United’s ad campaign is expected to run through March.
The Research Co. poll was conducted online between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24 among 800 B.C. adults, with data weighted to Canadian census figures. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
— with files from the Canadian Press
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