David Eby makes a final, late-night push for votes in Vancouver–Point Grey
It was just after 4:30 a.m. when the NDP tour bus pulled up in front of the fabled Naam restaurant in Kitsilano.
Party leader Adrian Dix was nearing the end of a 24-hour campaign swing that will see him visit 14 communities, including Prince George, Williams Lake, Kamloops, and Courtenay.
Looking spry as he jumped out of the vehicle with the NDP's candidate in Vancouver–Point Grey, David Eby, Dix headed into the 24-hour vegetarian hangout, where he ended up seated next to former NDP MP and former provincial NDP cabinet minister Ian Waddell.
Many years ago, Dix worked as an aide to Waddell when he represented Vancouver Kingsway in Parliament.
None of the trio was aware that the restaurant is owned by Bob Woodsworth, a relative of James Shaver Woodsworth, who was the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation during the Great Depression. The CCF was transformed into the NDP in 1961.
It seemed like a fitting location near the end of a gruelling campaign, which could catapult the NDP into power for the first time in B.C. since the 1996 election.
If the NDP wins in Vancouver–Point Grey, Eby will be one of the big stories later tonight because he will have upset a sitting premier, Christy Clark.
She's been the B.C. Liberal MLA in Vancouver–Point Grey since she narrowly defeated Eby, former executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, in a by-election in 2011.
The last premier to lose a seat in a general election was former NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who was beaten by the relatively unknown B.C. Liberal candidate, Patrick Wong, in Vancouver-Kensington in 2001.
A decade earlier, then-Socred premier Rita Johnston was defeated in Surrey-Newton by Penny Priddy of the NDP.
Prior to that, the last premier who lost his seat was Dave Barrett, who was upset by Socred George Kerster in Coquitlam in 1975.
In an interview at the Naam, Eby told the Straight that the campaign has gone exceedingly well.
"We've had a ton of volunteers," he said. "We've had a good, positive response in the community."
Eby revealed that on doorsteps, he heard voters tell him they didn't know that Clark wasn't a resident of Vancouver–Point Grey until they saw her on TV voting in advance in Vancouver–Fairview.
"It wasn't like 'how could she have screwed up her ballot?'," he said. "It was 'I had no idea she didn't live here.' "
When asked what the top issue was on the doorstep during the campaign, Eby replied that it was "easily the environment".
"There was tankers, pipelines, and climate change—and I think a lot of that is due to the Kinder Morgan proposal having such a direct effect on our community here," Eby stated.
He expressed surprise that the B.C. Liberal government cut funding to postsecondary education in the recent budget. This occurred even though Clark is a candidate in a constituency that includes UBC's Point Grey campus.
"I was really glad to be running on a platform on access to postsecondary education and skills training in this riding because people really get that here—the importance of a good education," Eby said.