WHAT WILL THINGS LOOK LIKE IF THE PREMIER WINS TONIGHT, AND IF SHE LOSES?
KELOWNA - Even when you're sure you're right, you could be wrong. That's what a UBCO political science professor learned from the last B.C. election.
"Eight weeks ago I predicted a comfortable majority NDP win. Well, I was quite wrong," Wolf Depner says. "That said, I'm pretty sure Christy Clark is going to win this byelection."
Clark has a lot going for her. A safe riding, her status as premier, and the Liberal legacy of Westside-Kelowna.
"The demographics of the area and the general attitudes are in her favour," Depner says. "It tends to be an older demographic, more conservative, not much of a union presence... And tends to have people with their own businesses or those who work in business."
He says Clark showed voters she is committed to the riding when she promised to run there again in 2017.
But how much does Clark really lose if she fails to earn the seat? Technically, she can keep her position as premier, a permitted, albeit unconventional move. The Liberals' image however would be on the line, and her party might give her the boot. Or she might save them the trouble, and simply resign, Depner says.
More likely though is that she'll win the seat and become Westside-Kelowna's next MLA. What will it look like to have the premier, an out-of-towner, acting as the mouthpiece for the riding?
"How much of Christy Clark will we actually see?" Depner says, noting her parliamentary system is all about individual MLAs speaking up on local needs. "I'm curious to see if she'll honour that."
Depner thinks the lead up to the election has been dismally light on local issues, lending itself to a matter of who's running, not what they're running for.
"Ideally, it should be about the local issues. Unfortunately, for the first two and a half weeks, this wasn't the case," Depner says.
With the byelection springing into action so soon after the election, Depner says people were tired of talking politics. Especially in the summer when interests are elsewhere. And particularly when the premier wasn't even around.
"In a way, the absence of Christy Clark for the first two and a half weeks make it difficult to talk about the issues of Kelowna-Westside," he says.
Some issues were touched on at an all-candidates forum last week, but Depner says many topics "did not get a fair hearing."
Despite her absence in the beginning of the campaign, Depner says Clark will win by a comfortable margin. Not the 58 per cent Ben Stewart did, but somewhere close.
And while he believes the NDP's Carole Gordon doesn't have a chance in this election, he predicts we won't have seen the last of her in the political world.
"She has been the most prolific critic of Christy Clark, and the most competent one too," Depner says.
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