British Columbians will be going to the polls on Tuesday May 12 to vote in their second fixed-date provincial election and second Single Transferable Vote referendum. While I haven’t written much about the BC election on this blog, I have been following this election with interest (check out the mighty Tyee’s Hook Blog, Public Eye Online, and the Gazetteer for some of the best info).
While many Albertans may not fully understand the quirky politics of our neighbours to the west, there are number of reasons why the electoral battle between the BC Liberals, led by Premier Gordon Campbell, and the BC NDP, led by leader Carole James, should be of interest to Albertans.
Since they were elected eight years ago, Campbell’s BC Liberals have forged a close relationship with Alberta’s governing Progressive Conservatives. Starting with meetings earlier in the decade, British Columbia and Alberta are now partners in the controversial TILMA (Trade, Investment, & Labour Mobility Agreement). The two governing parties have also hosted a series of joint-cabinet meetings to highlight their close relationship (and during this campaign, Campbell wore a pair of cowboy boots gifted to him by former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein).
In their platform, the BC NDP have pledged to renegotiate TILMA, which leads me to imagine what an entertaining time the first meeting between Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach and a Premier-elect Carole James would sound like…
Stelmach: So, you’re a socialist? In Alberta, we call Liberals socialists.
James: In British Columbia, you’d probably be a Liberal.
My friends in Alberta’s PC party who thought Klein was around for too long should take note of Gordon Campbell’s political longevity. Campbell has been leader of the BC Liberal Party since 1993, and in a quick estimation, this makes Campbell the second longest serving current major provincial party leader in Canada (the current longest being Manitoba Premier Gary Doer, who has led the Manitoba NDP since 1988). During his time as leader of the BC Liberals, Campbell has outlasted five BC NDP leaders.
British Columbians will also vote in their second STV referendum on May 12. Albertans including former Reform Party leader and Calgary-Southwest MP Preston Manning, former Edmonton-North Reform MP Deb Grey, and former Edmontonian Mel Hurtig have joined the broad list of prominent Canadians endorsing the change to STV in this referendum. Here’s a quick video explaining what the proposed electoral changes would mean: