And then there were three nominated for the Big Three parties. The Liberal piece of the Election jigsaw fell into place in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding, as the Paul Martin team added Gordon Vincent-Stamp to the parade of candidates for elected offices. Although as of the time of this posting the news had not yet hit the Liberal website!
With his arrival on the scene all three of the main parties have representation in one of Canada’s largest ridings (by size not population) ready to travel the width and breadth in aid of a seat in parliament.
The Liberal candidate will join incumbent Nathan Cullen who won the riding in the last general election from his base of the Smithers area. Back for another run at office is former Reform MP Mike Scott, who is running for the Conservatives who last, sent Andy Burton to Ottawa in what seems like eons ago.
Still to be heard from is the Green Party, which has yet to send their chosen one into the debate and out onto the hustings. Keeping one of the lowest profiles seen in a long time.
Last election, the Liberals recruited a “star” candidate to seek office, when Miles Richardson sought the vote. The high profile First Nations’ leader could not overcome the lead of the NDP candidate Cullen and pulled up in third place, far short of the required margin to head for office and a possible Martin cabinet post.
When Richardson declared as a candidate in the last election, the Bulkley Valley-Skeena was treated to a whistle stop tour by the new Liberal leader. Including a short little get together at the Podunk airport, which considering the logistics of getting to, showed great dedication by Liberals. So far Air Martin has come nowhere near the Northwest.
With a Liberal with a lesser profile this time, it will be interesting to see if the Liberal vote solidifies, or bleeds away to the NDP and the Conservatives depending on the individual Liberal voters tilt. Liberalism provincially in BC is very much a mixed tent, one part social consciousness and another part fiscal zealot more inclined towards the right wing. It splits down more among the Federal lines during election time. How that vote splits could go a long ways in deciding if Cullen repeats his success of 2004, or if the Conservatives pick up enough votes to reclaim the riding they last held in 2002. Considering the Liberal history in the riding, it’s doubtful that they can retake the riding they last controlled back in the days of Iona Campagnola.
Expect to see much discussion of the Container Port as part of the Liberal platform, appealing the future growth of the area to help bring back some of that drifting Liberal vote. Paul Martin as a spokesperson for Prince Rupert and the Northwest will no doubt be a constant theme of the campagin, but one wonders if that will be enough to move the Liberals up from their third place finish of 2004.
This election could see a local reversal of the Hargrove doctrine, that of endorsing Paul Martin and electing Liberals instead of NDP candidates, in ridings where the NDP aren’t expected to win. With Cullen the perceived favourite in this riding at the moment, it will be interesting to see how many dedicated Liberals abandon their candidate to try to make sure that the Cullen seat is not lost and returned to the Conservatives.