Tomorrow, BC voters go to the polls and below are my final thoughts. Already due to COVID-19, many have already voted and with a lot voting by mail; we may or may not know election results until a few weeks as mail in ballots not counted until mid November. That being said I think there is a good chance we know winner on election night, but several close seats, we may have to wait a few weeks before knowing who win. First is my personal thoughts and then after is what I think will happen. On what I think parties need to do going forward, I will put that in the post mortem as better to see final results first than speculate.
I am a lifelong BC Liberal supporter and I do plan to vote for them, but must admit won’t be with much enthusiasm. If they lose as I expect them to, won’t be too upset since as much as I am not keen on an NDP majority, I feel BC Liberals have not gone through the renewal they need to form government. For NDP, I believe Horgan like most premiers has handled pandemic fairly well. On other policies it has been a mixed bag. While he hasn’t done anything too radical like past NDP governments and has been more centrist. I still believe $5.5 billion with 23 tax hikes or new taxes is excessive. He arrived with a $2.7 billion surplus so could have used that to fund new programs instead of higher taxes. Yes eliminating MSP Premiums was a good thing, but I believe carbon tax (which was revenue neutral and should have stayed that way) along with revenue from marijuana legalization should have been used to pay for this instead of the employer health tax. For top rate increases, which impacted me: I was okay (not happy but okay with) first increase as even with that still stayed below the 50% combined federal + provincial and still 3rd lowest in Canada. The second one however I feel was misplaced and at least should have waited until full recovery of pandemic and say be temporary like 5 years to help balance budget, not permanent. Other things like on construction projects limiting to certain favourite unions was a bad policy too and will cost us more in long term. At same time he did some good things I support like banning corporate and union donations as well as capping donations to parties. I also support raises for welfare and disability rates as I believe as a society we have an obligation to look after our most disadvantaged members. On minimum wage, I agree with an increase and I think fact biggest came when economy was doing well thus could absorb was wise. Also glad it was phased in since while minimum wage workers couldn’t live on previous wages, raising too fast would hurt small businesses. So slow but predictable increases are best way forward for both small business and workers.
Turning to BC Liberals, platform has lots of good stuff, but they have a lousy leader. Wilkinson comes across as arrogant, too old guard, and too stuck in past. And reality is few people bother to read party platforms. Leader matters a lot and clearly Wilkinson was wrong choice. Yes I believe no matter who we chose, it would be an uphill battle, but I believe by choosing Wilkinson, we took a doable but difficult election to unwinnable. The idea of eliminating PST for 1 year and then 3% is very foolhardy as will do little to stimulate economy and just blow a big hole in the budget resulting in either tax hikes or spending cuts down the road. So if BC Liberals fail to win, this will be the one positive. I am all for a more targeted approach that would help hard hit sectors like tourism and restaurant industry recover once vaccine is developed. But despite this, the BC Liberals do have many good policies. I support ending ICBC’s monopoly as having lived in Ontario which has private auto insurance and BC which is public; I much prefer the private system in Ontario. You can shop around for best rates as well as also combine for auto with home for lower rates. I already get my optional coverage through a private company and would like to get my basic too. A fair tax commission is another good idea. When economy is going well, having right tax mix and right spending levels less crucial. But when in trouble, it is essential we get it right. This will be non-partisan and hopefully with that it won’t mean going back and forth on taxes every time government’s change. Finally, the best policy was a tax credit for home care. With many of the deaths from COVID-19 being in long term care facilities (especially bad in Ontario and Quebec, less so in BC), this exposed a real weakness. As such I think trying to shift more seniors to home care where possible can help reduce mortality not just from pandemic but other diseases as well as allow them to live in the comfort of their own homes. I still have two Grandparents alive, one is 100 other is 98 and both live at home. One at 100 doesn’t require home care, but Grandma at 98 does. I promised my parents I would pay for home care when they get older if they need it. However, many are not as fortunate as me and cannot afford this, thus a good policy. Also childcare where it would be more affordable but done on a means tested basis is a good idea and long term will enhance growth as more women can go into workforce. And it is more affordable as those who can least afford it have lowest rates while those who can most afford it pay most. I also think promise to balance budget in 5 years after vaccine developed is a fair policy. Deficit will be $12 billion this year, but much of that is due to big drop in economic output from COVID-19. Once vaccine developed, I suspect strong recovery and deficit to be much smaller. From there, it is possible with right policies, strong growth and prudent spending to get to balance without tax hikes or major spending cuts. One major issue and I think this could really damage party is their slow movement to kick Laurie Throness out. This is one more example of party still being stuck in 2001 not 2020. Back then, people tolerated social conservatives as long as leader was not one. Times have changed and millennials, urban voters, and those with university degrees want social conservatives expunged from politics. I know some use free speech argument, but I do not accept this. Political parties have values and people who are intolerant should not be allowed in any mainstream party. They can go form their fringe parties if they wish. Worries about party splitting are overblown. Problem with BC Liberals is not risk of split on right; problem is many centrists who voted BC Liberal in past are not anymore and that is where party needs to focus.
In terms of what I think will happen, unless Mainstreet or Forum show radically different numbers (in which case I will post an update), I think a BC NDP majority is more or less a foregone conclusion. Yes I got an e-mail claiming BC Liberal’s own internal polls show they are tied, but I believe that is a bunch of malarkey as Joe Biden would say. I think they are just saying that to keep volunteers motivated, but I don’t believe for a second things are close. Yes pollsters got it wrong in 2013, but that time BC Liberals had momentum and final polls were closer. This time polls are static and NDP has bigger lead. As such I think anything from 50-70 seats for NDP possible while for BC Liberals 12-35 seats. Greens should hold a seat or two, but holding all 3 despite Fursteau’s strong performance will be tough. My hope is BC Liberals get over 30 seats. That will ensure a strong opposition so hopefully NDP takes that as a cue to not go overboard. At same time will ensure a wide diversity of candidates who can run to secede Wilkinson. In particular I am hoping both Ellis Ross and Michael Lee hold their seats, but sadly don’t think they will, which is unfortunate, as both are the type of leaders party needs. But hopefully one of them surprises us and wins. After Forum and Mainstreet post numbers this evening, I will update my exact prediction. Probably off as I find with small swings its easy to predict seat numbers but with larger swings much harder as rarely are they uniform.
Based on four polls today, my predictions are as follows:
BC Liberals 35%
BC NDP 63 seats
BC Liberals 22 seats
Greens 2 seats
Bye bye Andrew Wilkinson. Next four years will be tough, but hopefully this knocks some sense into BC Liberals they need to modernize party. Problem is pickings will be slim, but may need to look outside of caucus too.