New Westminster 2017 Provincial election prediction scenarios

In the 2013 BC Provincial Election Andrew Weaver had a historic first BC Green victory in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding. This time around, the Greens are looking to expand upon their single seat with an additional one or two on Vancouver Island.

The dark horse riding for the Greens is our very own New Westminster, with Jonina Campbell running. Everything I’ve seen points to New West going NDP, and for good reason: in every election but one since 1952 the New Westminster riding has voted in either a CCF or an NDP MLA. But one candidate calls the election a crapshoot, and another says election night will be a nail-biter. Why?

Jonina Campbell. She’s a well-respected school board trustee, and sat as chair when the Provincial government finally decided to build a new high school. She wore some of that success (and Judy Darcy, the NDP candidate and MLA, shares some of that success as well) along with other school board successes: less infighting on the board, balancing the budget, and a series of progressive changes to district policies.

But is a BC Green victory in New Westminster realistic?

I took a look at some of the numbers and came up with some scenarios.


When Andrew Weaver won in 2013 he gained votes from both the Liberals and the NDP in equal proportions. In 2009 Oak Bay-Gordon Head was won by the Liberals by a mere 561 votes, 11877 to 11316. The Greens took 2230 votes.

In 2013 the Greens took 10722 votes, the NDP came in second with 7767, and the Liberals came in third with 7536. All things being equal, this means that 3780 votes went from the NDP to the Greens and 4110 went from the Liberals to the Greens. Both parties lost approximately 33% of their votes to the Greens (33.4% for the NDP, 34.6% for the Liberals).

Turnout was up 2.7% in the riding.

In 2013 in New Westminster the NDP got 13170 votes, Liberals got 8997, the Greens got 2252, and other candidates received a total of 2546. We’re not going to look at the other candidates in this analysis.

Scenario 1: Oak Bay-Gordon Head in New Westminster

This scenario is pretty far-fetched. We’re going to take the same proportions of votes that went Liberal to Green and NDP to Green that we saw in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and assume that those proportions will happen in New Westminster. This means the NDP loses 33.4% of their 2013 votes to the Greens, and the Liberal loses 34.6% to the Greens.

Under this scenario, with no increase in turnout, the Greens win New Westminster with 9764 votes. NDP is in second with 8771, and the Liberals in third with 5884.

Scenario 1B: More voters, and they break Green

Of course, a close race means more interest in an election, and that can drive voter turnout. Let’s suppose the number of voters who actually cast a ballot in New Westminster goes up by 5% (note that this is actually different than “turnout increases by 5%” because of math). Let’s also suppose that they break Green – 50% of these new voters vote Green, 35% vote NDP, and 15% vote Liberal. Obviously under this scenario the Greens still win, but by a slightly larger margin: 10008 to 8925 to 5928.

Scenario 2: Split the Left

This scenario is also very far-fetched for New Westminster. We’ll assume that there’s a fixed pool of “left” voters made up of everybody who voted either NDP or Green in the last election and this year they actually legitimately exactly split the left. For this to happen 41.45% of the previous NDP voters would go Green, all of the Liberal voters vote Liberal again, and the Liberals would win New West by 1286 votes with the NDP and Green tied at 7711 votes. For either of the “left” parties to win, the number of new voters would have to go up 17% and they would all have to go to one of either the NDP or Green.

There’s no way this is going to happen.

Scenario 3: Liberals flee, NDP not so much

Let’s get into some more realistic scenarios. In New Westminster politically there’s really three groups: NDPers, regular people, and people who really don’t like the New Westminster and District Labour Council (aka THE MACHINE). The people in the latter category are largely Liberal supporters, but given their love for the Liberals is outweighed by their hatred for THE MACHINE, they could easily move to a candidate who stands a legitimate chance of coming close to defeating the NDP in New West. This year they have that candidate.

One could make a parallel here to the recent school trustee by-election that went to Mary Lalji if one were so inclined.

We could probably lump in a fourth group of people: NDP voters who aren’t really tied to the NDP but voted for them as an anti-Liberal vote.

So with that in mind, let’s throw some numbers down. Let’s say the Liberals lose 35% of their voters to the Greens. Let’s say the NDP’s a little firmer, with 15% of their voters going Green. Under this scenario, the NDP win New Westminster with 11195 votes, Greens in second with 7376, and Liberals in third with 5848.

Or maybe even more Liberals break Green? 50% means the Greens are still in second, but with 8726 votes. 75% gives them 10975 votes. You need to get over 78% of the Liberal voters moving to the Greens before they win in New Westminster with 11245 votes.

Scenario 3B: More new voters, and they break Green

Let’s take scenario 3 with the 35% Liberals and 15% NDP going Green, but let’s also bump up the voters by 10%, with 60% of them going to the Greens, 30% to the NDP, and 10% to the Liberals. Under this scenario the NDP still win New Westminster: 11530 to 7819 to 5906.

Scenario 4: More NDP go Green, even more Liberals go Green

Personally I think Scenario 3 is the most likely, but here’s another interesting possible outcome: 25% of NDP voters and 50% of Liberal voters go Green. I don’t think either proportion is correct, but it’s still within the realm of possibilities. Under this scenario, the Greens win New Westminster with 10043 votes, the NDP in second with 9878 votes, and the Liberals in third with 4499 votes.

Now that would be a nail-biter!

Scenario 5: You tell me!

Maybe you don’t agree with my scenarios. Great! Leave me a comment below or shoot me a comment on Twitter or Facebook and I’ll run the numbers.

Scenario 6: You don’t vote

In this scenario you are bad and you should feel bad.


Guest Post: On Voting Green and Splitting the Left

Note: This is a guest post by Alice Cavanagh.

Recently on Twitter, a friend of mine said something that really stuck with me. There was a bit of heated debate about voting strategically vs voting your conscience and what about if your conscience leads you to vote strategically.

What she said in reference to the BC Green Party was “They can’t be fiscally to the right and socially to the left, that just doesn’t work. *shrugs*”.

I have issues with the concept of vote splitting and that the Green Party are somehow closet Liberals. One is that if you care at all about people you must vote NDP, that the NDP deserve it. No party is entitled to my vote. They have to fucking earn it.

I support many of the NDP initiatives but the BC Green Party has better ones. I do not support the way the NDP campaign. In this campaign, they abruptly got into a bidding war on tolls with the Liberals just to win swing ridings.  Where’s the policy and justification for this? I don’t know. Their platform is less platform and more attack ad. I know what the Liberals are doing wrong, I want the NDP to tell me what they will do right, with actual details. Take a peek at their so-called transit plan.

The NDP party is running an anti-LGBT 2S+ candidate in Richmond. He’s quoted saying the NDP struck a deal to get him to run. He’s allowed to vote as he chooses on these issues  The only reason this hasn’t hit the mainstream is it’s all played out in the Chinese language papers.

They won’t outright kill the Site C dam, despite it being an environmentally and economically poor choice. They won’t take leadership here.  They will push it off to the B.C. Utilities Commission in hopes the backlash leaves them untainted.

They are not investing any more in education than the Liberals are. But they have a huge union twitter campaign screaming the Green Party is anti-teacher, despite the Green platform of putting a significantly larger financial investment into education including desperately needed curriculum training and feeding lunch to kids who are food insecure.

These unprincipled choices are why I have a hard time supporting NDP.

Reasons I’m supporting the Greens in this election include the fact they are fiscally more right than the NDP. I’m in support of responsible fiscal investment.

The Greens investments into upfront support for mental health and addictions issues is both socially (left leaning) and fiscally (right leaning) responsible. When it’s good from both the left and the right you pull both sides together.

The Greens will kill Site C. This is good environmentally (left leaning) and economically (right leaning).

The Green Party has stopped accepting donations from corporations and unions. Have they in the past? Sure. But they listened when people said it was wrong, took the high road and stopped the practice. No law forced them to make the change.

Their education plan is frankly amazing and so good for the province. Their housing plan is solid. Their basic income for kids ageing out of foster care? Life changing for young adults who have been poorly served by our society.

Are there things that the Green Party could do better? Hell yes! They could use considerably more gender and ethnic diversity than they have now. But they’ve improved since the last election and are moving forward. Their platform isn’t as financially secure as it could be, economic analysis is suggesting their plan would lead to a small deficit in the first year of their government but it’s on a rapid plan to move towards a surplus. Their taxation plan is more progressive than our current system but I think it could go further in the future.

One of the most exciting things about the Green Party is the support they are winning from the left and right. The BC Greens are winning this support despite not having huge cash donations or in-kind staffing. They are doing it because they have good ideas, they have broad ground level volunteer support and they are running a campaign that leaves you feeling good at the end of the day.

Two of my friends that voted Liberal are considering or planning on voting Green this election. I voted NDP in the last provincial election and am excited to vote Green this election. A friend of mine who has always voted NDP is considering voting Green. That tells me voting Green is a choice people are making because it makes sense to them. It’s not about left or right. Politics in BC has been too much an either or choice leading to polarization and people becoming disengaged because they don’t fit in with offerings of the current parties. If you look at Andrew Weaver’s support in 2013 he pulled roughly 4000 votes from the BC NDP, roughly 3800 from the BC Liberals and close to 3000 votes from new voters.

So is voting Green splitting the left? Only if it’s splitting the right too.

On May 9th vote. Make the choice that resonates with you and that you think leads the province to stable, healthy and prosperous future.

What now for the Pattullo Bridge?

The Pattullo Bridge needs replacing. Built 80 years ago but designed to last 50 years, it desperately needs replacing. River scour is causing foundation issues. The reinforcing steel is corroding. The concrete is degrading. The lanes are narrow and dangerous. It needs to go.

TransLink has a plan for replacing it, with a new bridge planned to open in 2023. In 2014 New Westminster city council did a road tour around to other councils in Metro Vancouver to push for a four-lane tolled bridge — at the time Surrey wanted a six-lane bridge. Surrey agreed that a four-lane bridge would do, as long as it could be easily expanded to six lanes should vehicular traffic volumes dictate it.

In 2016 Surrey, New Westminster, and TransLink agreed that the new Pattullo would be tolled. This is important, as the toll would help to shape traffic patterns (along with the tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges, and on the future Massey Tunnel replacement bridge) and, more importantly, pay off roughly half of the cost of building the bridge.

And then a couple of days ago the BC Liberals said they’d cap bridge tolls at $500 per year. The BC NDP one-upped them, saying they would completely eliminate tolls.

So what does this mean for the Pattullo Bridge replacement? All of a sudden TransLink has lost about $500 million in toll revenue that they were planning on using to pay off their portion of the construction of the Pattullo Bridge replacement. Where does that money come from? The bridge needs to be replaced, that can’t be put off. But an organization with an operations budget of around $1.6 billion can’t magically pull $500 million out of a hat. Do they have to cut operational funding, which means cuts in service? Do they cut other capital projects they were planning, like the Surrey LRT or the Broadway SkyTrain line? Do they raise fares?

All of a sudden the two largest political parties in BC have thrown this planning into disarray. They’ve shown that not only are they willing to ignore the Mayors Council and TransLink, who have worked hard over the past five years to come up with plans to improve transportation in Metro Vancouver despite a hostile provincial government, they’re also willing to ignore decades of studies in transportation planning that show that congestion charges or mobility pricing, when instituted in conjunction with increases in public transit funding and availability, are the best way to fight congestion. Instead they’ve both gone with populist policies that will only serve to get them elected, and will set the region backwards five to ten years.

The BC Liberals and the BC NDP need to tell New Westminster and Surrey how the new Pattullo Bridge will be paid for, and they need to tell us before we all vote on May 9.

A Stab In The Back

Metro Vancouver has a traffic problem. A year and a half ago we had a referendum that’d put more money into fixing congestion, but it got shot down in a ball of flames. Nonetheless, the region’s mayors pushed on with their ten-year plan to do what they can to improve transportation in Metro Vancouver.

And one of the longer-term components in both funding their plan and actually reducing congestion is mobility pricing.

Use mobility pricing to reduce congestion and overcrowding, improve fairness, and generate revenue for new transportation investment

Currently there are tolls on two bridges in Metro Vancouver: the Golden Ears Bridge (operated by TransLink) and the Port Mann Bridge (operated by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure). This has led to complaints, mostly from people living south of the Fraser River, that they’re unfair. They’ve also led to increased traffic over the free bridges, mostly the Pattullo Bridge between Surrey and New Westminster.

Both the Pattullo Bridge and Massey Tunnel are slated for replacement with tolled bridges, leaving just one crossing of the Fraser toll-free: the Alex Fraser Bridge. This would lead to even worse congestion on the Alex Fraser, and this is why the Mayors’ Council has been pushing for a region-wide mobility pricing scheme. It might not be tolls on every bridge, but it could be some other kind of “pay as you drive” system. Tolling bridges is easier to set up, as it uses infrastructure that’s largely already in place.

So imagine the outroar when the BC Liberals announced that, if they get re-elected in the upcoming provincial election, they would cap tolls at $500 per year. It’s an announcement that reeks of pandering for votes. It’s completely at odds with any sort of region-wide tolling plans the mayors come up with. It’s also expensive, as both bridges are losing money as it is, and now the BC Liberals are suggesting to throw even more money at them. All in the name of getting elected.

And if you were a mayor in Metro Vancouver (except for maybe Lois Jackson) you’d probably be pissed right off at the BC Liberals, who have fought against the mayors at nearly every step in their plan to make transportation in Metro Vancouver a little better. And this plan to cap tolls is at complete odds with the regional transportation plan they’ve been working hard to develop and promote.

So how can you imagine they feel after the BC NDP came out and said they’d scrap tolls entirely?

After all, the BC NDP said that they’d “put the mayors of Metro Vancouver’s transportation framework into action“. He also said “I want to make it absolutely clear to mayors and councils in all corners of B.C. that I will be on their side and not picking fights,” and “the Metro mayors have worked hard to develop a 10-year transportation plan, and New Democrats support their vision.”

Imagine you’re New Westminster mayor Jonathan Cote, a big supporter of the NDP and a proponent of mobility pricing.

Imagine you’re Metro Vancouver chair and Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore, who’s been pushing to get something in place by 2022, when the replacements for the Pattullo and Massey are expected to be completed, and has said, “we said mobility pricing, dynamic mobility pricing around the region is the way to go. One version of mobility pricing is tolling all of the various bridges.”

Imagine you’re Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson who said, “We want to see a very clear step to ensure we’re on track to implementing mobility pricing.”

And imagine you’re a mayor and both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP have scuppered your plans for tolling all of the bridges. And suppose the mayors come up with a plan for mobility pricing that doesn’t involve tolling bridges, so it fits the letter of what those two parties came up with but not the spirit. “BUT THEY SAID NO MORE TOLLS” cry the drivers. And the mayors now become former mayors. Mobility pricing is now off the table, politically.

How would you feel? Stabbed in the back?