Tight B.C. election puts vote splitting on agenda in campaign's final days

NDP Leader John Horgan steps off a plane after arriving in Nanaimo, B.C., on Friday May 5, 2017, for campaign stops on Vancouver Island. A provincial election will be held on Tuesday.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

NANAIMO, B.C. - British Columbia's political party leaders have been frantically crisscrossing the province, making their final appeals to voters who might still be swayed before casting their ballots Tuesday.

New Democrat Leader John Horgan reached out to prospective Green party voters, and in at least one riding campaign workers said a split vote would actually help the NDP.

Horgan, campaigning on Vancouver Island Friday where the NDP holds 11 of 14 seats, said undecided and Green voters should support the New Democrats in a strategic move to keep Christy Clark's Liberals from a fifth consecutive election win.

"I'm appealing to those who are contemplating voting Green that we have a lot of concerns in common," he said. "I think we can all agree we can't afford four more years of Christy Clark."

Horgan, who battled with Green Leader Andrew Weaver during the campaign's televised debate, made the appeal at each of his campaign events, starting in Nanaimo.

He said the NDP and Greens share similar positions on electoral reform, climate change and opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion project.

"We can defeat Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals but we have to come together to make it happen," Horgan said, adding a warning that vote splits benefit the Liberals.

Weaver also campaigned on the Island Friday, and was unequivocal in his rejection of Horgan's invitation, denouncing the NDP offer as a form of voter suppression built on fear.

Weaver said the Greens are looking to inspire voters, not scare them away from supporting a political party.

The Greens hold just one seat in the legislature, but are believed to be challenging the NDP for several seats on Vancouver Island.

Despite Horgan's appeals to Green voters, some New Democrats in Parksville-Qualicum said local NDP candidate Sue Powell was looking to move between the Liberal and Green votes and take the seat from incumbent Michelle Stilwell, who is a member of Clark's cabinet.

"I strongly believe that Sue Powell is going to win this election because the disenfranchised Liberal voters are defecting and she's picking up some of those votes and the Greens are picking up the other ones, but our base is very very strong," said NDP supporter Scott DeLong.

Clark also made a stop on Vancouver Island during a whirlwind of campaigning on Friday that included events in Campbell River, Richmond, Terrace, Smithers and Prince George.

She again warned supporters of the negative impact she insisted an NDP government would have on jobs.

Clark accused Horgan of having more than 100,000 jobs on his "hit list," citing his opposition to resource projects including Pacific NorthWest LNG and Trans Mountain, along with his plan to hike the minimum wage.

She promoted her party as the only one that can create and protect jobs, particularly in natural resources, from the protectionist influence of U.S. President Donald Trump.

"We are going to stand strong to make sure that we support jobs in British Columbia. We are going to fight and we are going to fight hard to make sure that we preserve what we have in the face of U.S. protectionism," Clark said at an event in Campbell River.

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