British Columbia’s political landscape continues to be in flux. Following the learnings from the 2020 provincial election and demographic shifts partially caused by the pandemic, there are almost a dozen ridings where the outcome is still anyone’s game.
Cost of living is the largest issue driving B.C.’s electorate, with housing and rental prices continuing to climb expeditiously in markets outside of the traditional hotspot of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland like Central and South Okanagan, and the regions across Vancouver Island.
The Tories look poised to take most of B.C.’s interior and northern regions in rare matchups between Conservatives and the NDP. In the South Coast and Lower Mainland the tone is decidedly more Liberal and NDP, while the popularity of Erin O’Toole has taken a hit with the CPC’s announcement to scrap a national childcare program in favour of a tax credit for parents.
Look to Vancouver’s southern suburbs and the rest of the Fraser Valley as the battlegrounds to swing the provincial balance. The NDP, Liberals, and Conservatives all have a strong presence in the region—but as we saw in the 2020 provincial election, demographics are changing: Traditional right leaning strongholds like Cloverdale, Langley East and Chilliwack were swept up by the NDP in the 2020 provincial election, and two-term Liberal incumbent Ron McKinnon could be ousted by the Conservatives in the Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam riding.
- Conservative: 17
- Liberal: 11
- New Democratic: 11
- Green: 2
- Independent: 1
5 ridings to watch
1. Vancouver Granville
- Incumbent: Jody Wilson-Raybould (Independent) (not running)
- Primary challengers: Taleeb Noormohamed (LPC) and Kailin Che (CPC)
- Character: Urban
Since its redistribution in 2013, this diverse urban riding has a demographic breakdown that now leans centre-left, which propelled Jody Wilson-Raybould to a 9,000-vote victory in 2015. And following Jody Wilson-Raybould's victory as an independent in 2019 and not seeking re-election—her endorsement or condemnation could make or break the candidates’ chances.
Taleeb Noormohamed finished second in the previous election to Wilson-Raybould and will benefit the most from her departure, but polling has the parties neck-and-neck with experts unsure where votes will be redistributed.
2. Cloverdale—Langley City
- Incumbent: Tamara Jansen (CPC)
- Primary challenger: John Aldag (LPC)
- Character: Suburban
2015 incumbent John Aldag and the Liberals are looking to re-take the riding that was won by fewer than 1,500 votes in 2019. This will be one of the most hotly contested elections in the province. Once a sure-fire Conservative riding, this seat’s political climate has shifted towards the centre. Currently, this riding is too close to call but remains a key piece in the Liberal’s goal of a majority government.
It will be interesting to see if Jansen’s social-conservative views turn off the more centre-right leaning voters, pushing them towards the Liberals.
3. Kelowna—Lake Country
- Incumbent: Tracy Gray (CPC)
- Primary challenger: Tim Krupa (LPC)
- Character: Suburban
Following a resounding victory in 2019 by over 9,000 votes, Tracy Gray looks to reinforce her control of the region. This will showcase Interior B.C.’s appetite for Conservative politics as they look to gain on their hold in and around Kelowna—Lake Country. If the Liberals or the NDP make any gains in the area, it will speak to fundamental political changes in the region. Second in the polls, political newcomer and Oxford and Harvard-educated Tim Krupa is in tough in his hometown riding.
- Incumbent: Rob Morrison (CPC)
- Primary challenger: Wayne Stetski (NDP)
- Character: Rural
In 2015 Stetski defeated Morrison by a couple of hundred votes. Fast forward to 2019, Morrison defeated the incumbent by almost 7,000. This election will answer whether Stetski's breakthrough in 2015 was just a blip, or a sign that the region is moving towards the left. With political leanings more like its Alberta neighbours than its westward B.C counterparts, this area could further highlight the growing rural/urban divide in the province if Morrison cruises to another victory.
- Incumbent: Paul Manly (GPC)
- Primary challengers: Lisa Marie Barron (NDP), Tamara Kronis (CPC)
- Character: Suburban, Rural
Will Manly be able to hold the seat despite the Greens’ current party turmoil? Will the policies of the BC NDP hurt the federal party’s chances to make up any ground on Vancouver Island? Or will the Conservatives finally break through after a number of second-place finishes here since 2011? Odds are the Greens still take this riding, but it could be close.
National childcare program: With the recent Conservative announcement that they would scrap the national childcare program if elected, expect both the Liberals and NDP to highlight this at every opportunity in B.C. to try and swing undecided urban voters.
Climate change: With one of the worst wildfire seasons in B.C.’s history continuing to devastate many parts of the province, climate change and its effects are top of mind.
Consult our 2021 Federal Election section to get the latest perspectives from our experts.
Other regional analyses:
——— Jason Craik is a former Director, Corporate and Public Affairs at NATIONAL Public Relations