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Thompson Okanagan ridings: The view from here

Wolf Depner
Image Credit: Source/ UBCO
May 14, 2013 - 3:14 PM

InfoTel News got in touch with Wolfgang Depner, a political scientist and doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia Okanagan today for his best guess on the outcome of tonight's provincial election. He says some ridings will stick to their norms, while others could be in for some big changes.

Backing up a step, Depner gives his two cents on how people vote.

"Ultimately, you're not electing the premier, but a member of the assembly. It's not a choice between Dix or Clark, or Cummins, but a choice of who happens to be in your riding. People should vote for who they think will represent their interests the best. That may coincide with their preferred party choice, it may not. They should judge the candidates in front of the ballots based on whether they think that person will do the best job."

With that in mind, here are Depner's predictions on how he thinks the region's voters will cast their ballots tonight.

Vernon-Monashee

Depner can't—or won't—place a bet on this slippery riding. "It's very tough to call," he says. For over a decade, the B.C. Liberals have held a strong foothold in the area, but that could be ending.

Mark Olsen proved a strong competitor in the 2009 election, just five per cent behind Eric Foster who won the riding for the B.C. Liberals.

"Eric Foster has been in the news lately, for the wrong reasons," Depner says. "His issues loom large in the minds of voters."

At the same time, Depner says there's a good possibility the riding will swing to the right. "Vernon also has a good chance of getting a Conservative, a better chance than in many parts of the province."

If they don't win, Depner says the Conservative presence could still split the vote and give the seat to Olsen.

As for the riding's Green candidate, Rebecca Helps of Port Moody, Depner doesn't think she'll get many votes. "If she hasn't shown her face, she doesn't have much appeal."

He speculates those who might have voted for a local Green candidate will give their vote to the NDP.

"But it's not that black and white," he says. "None of the parties should think another's votes belong to them."

Shuswap

"It's a toss up as well," Depner says. "George Abbott (Liberal) was MLA for a long, long time. His presence still holds some sway."

He predicts the Liberals will hang on in the riding, though it will be by a slim margin.

Kelowna

Depner is confident in his forecast for all the Kelowna area ridings. "All of them will stay solidly with the B.C. Liberals," Depner says.

His prognosis stems from the area's demographics, socio-economics and past election results, where they've consistently won by large margins. Even if the NDP sweep the province, he says the Liberals will hang on in the Kelowna area.

Penticton

Depner says it'll be a close race between the Liberals and the NDP in this riding. Mayor Dan Ashton, who's running for the B.C. Liberals, is a well-known face, something Depner says is a huge advantage.

"He wasn't always the most beloved mayor, and he's acknowledged he's had a tough time with unions," Depner says. "Still, was effective as mayor and he's a well known figure."

He believes Richard Cannings is the strongest NDP candidate the riding has had in years. Also well-known in the community, Depner says Cannings has great appeal for voters.

Also on his side is the absence of a Green candidate, something Depner says will likely land him more votes. Historically, he says the Greens have roused a substantial percentage of the votes in the riding.

"Cannings has a realistic shot," Depner says.

Much will depend on who voters think will deliver the most action on Penticton Regional Hospital.

"The issue of the hospital is a big one. Both Adrian Dix and Christy Clark have said they would fund the expansion," Depner says. "The fate of the hospital is going to help determine the positions of a lot of voters. Many will make choices based on who they consider more credible—Dix or Clark."

Kamloops-North Thompson

Depner would be surprised if the ridings went any other way than NDP. Kamloops has sent government MLAs to Victoria in nearly every election over the past decade, earning it a reputation as a bellwether riding.

He says Kathy Kendall, of the NDP, is well-known and popular in her riding.

Boundary-Similkameen

"This riding has been through more drama than "As the World Turns,'" Depner says.

Liberal John Slater won the riding in 2009, was going to run as an independent this year, but suddenly dropped out of the race. NDP candidate Marji Basso followed suit.

Despite a strong independent by the name of Mischa Popoff, Depner predicts NDP Sam Hancheroff to win.

"The NDP have done okay there in the past," he says.

Province-wide

Overall, Depner predicts the province will end up with a comfortable NDP majority—anywhere between 48-56 seats. In addition, he guesses there will be a few seats held by independents and Greens.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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