For many B.C. voters, the Greens or the Conservatives are the second-best option in the upcoming provincial election.
The strongest B.C. Liberal supporters loathe the B.C. NDP, and vice versa.
So why would the governing party or the Official Opposition run candidates in constituencies where they have no chance of winning?
Why not give the Greens or the Conservatives a chance to knock off their primary opponent's candidate?
Like with so many other things related to B.C. politics, you have to follow the money.
Before the writ is dropped, the B.C. Liberals know they'll be slaughtered in the East Side constituencies of Vancouver–Mount Pleasant and Vancouver-Hastings.
Similarly, the New Democrats know that they can run candidates for the next century in West Side constituencies like Vancouver-Langara and Vancouver-Quilchena and probably never win these seats.
But if the B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP field candidates in all 87 constituencies, they can also do fundraising in all 87 constituencies.
Every election, an NDP standard-bearer can hold out the hat in the tony areas south of Oakridge Centre or in Dunbar and panhandle for some money to bring back to the party treasury.
Similarly, the B.C. Liberals can usually find someone from a visible minority to run in safe NDP constituencies to convey the impression that the governing party cares about racial minorities. This, in turn, can yield some new volunteers and extra money for the party.
Over the years, the B.C. Liberals have recruited candidates of Philippine, Vietnamese, Chinese, and indigenous heritage to run where there was zero chance of success.
This has enabled the party leader of the day to be photographed in a sea of multicultural faces, helping the B.C. Liberals' electoral prospects.
The B.C. NDP has been known to play this game, too, running candidates from mainland China where there's absolutely no hope of victory. But it sends a message to new immigrants from this country that the party is keenly interested in their welfare.
In some cases, the losing candidate has been rewarded with a job or a board appointment afterward. Case in point: B.C. Liberal Gabby Kalaw, who lost to New Democrat Mable Elmore in Vancouver-Kensington in 2013.
The reality is that the B.C. Liberals would have a better chance of knocking off NDP stalwart Shane Simpson in Vancouver-Hastings if they sat out this campaign.
This would give the Greens' David Wong a better chance of pulling off an upset. Wong is a decent candidate with an impressive record of community service.
Similarly, the B.C. NDP could sit out the race in Vancouver-Langara, which would give former school trustee and Green candidate Janet Fraser a better chance of defeating B.C. Liberal Michael Lee. Instead, the B.C. NDP has recruited Burnaby school trustee James Wang to run in the constituency.
This will likely divide the anti-Liberal vote in Vancouver-Langara, which usually has a preponderance of B.C. Liberal supporters.
The B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP like to act as though they are mortal enemies. But they will still do whatever they can to preserve the duopoly in provincial politics.
That's because the two major parties already have a decent market share, which means lots of seats and lots of employment for backroom strategists and organizers.
Coke and Pepsi don't want a third cola on grocery-store shelves, so why would things be any different in provincial politics?