NDP hopes to make gains in B.C. during federal election as Conservative MPs retire
Federal NDP candidates are hoping to gain new ground in B.C. in the upcoming election as some long-time Conservative MPs retire.
“I think the Conservatives are losing ground in B.C.,” Vancouver East MP Libby Davies told the Straight by phone from Ottawa following a nonconfidence vote that found the Harper government in contempt of Parliament.
Davies argued the departure of Conservative “stalwarts” such as Stockwell Day, John Cummins, and Chuck Strahl from could lead to new opportunities for the NDP during a campaign.
“We feel very strong about making some very good gains in B.C.,” she said. "There’s going to be some very interesting races."
Doug McArthur, a public policy expert at Simon Fraser University, predicted the party does have the potential to gain some new seats in B.C. He predicted some ridings such as Burnaby-Douglas will largely be Conservative-NDP contests.
“I think the NDP has some reasons for optimism about improving its number of seats a little bit,” he said.
He said the Liberals could see some decline in seats, while the Conservatives and the Greens could make some gains.
Davies said affordable housing will be one of the key issues for the NDP during the election campaign, which is expected to be launched Saturday.
“That was one of the most glaring emissions in the federal budget, there was no mention of housing in all 350 pages,” she said. “It’s a huge issue in Metro Vancouver. I actually cannot believe that the Conservatives just don’t get it.”
She said other campaign issues will include protection of B.C.’s north coast from oil tanker traffic, climate change, immigration, seniors and childcare.
“What kind of connects it all is I think a real loss of confidence in the Conservative government,” said Davies. “It is about who wins and who loses. Why is it that these big banks get massive corporate tax cuts, when other people are hurting so badly?”
Davies said the NDP, which supported the Liberal nonconfidence motion along with the Bloc Quebecois, would have voted against the budget once it came to a vote.
“We’re members of Parliament, we represent our constituencies, we represent the public interest, and when Parliament by a majority expresses its non-confidence in the government and finds contempt, that is a really serious matter, so I think Stephen Harper has got nothing to be proud of,” she said.
Davies expressed her disappointment with what she said were efforts on the part of the Conservatives to stop a bill aimed at allowing better access to affordable medicines for developing countries.
Bill C-393 passed in the House of Commons and was sent to the Conservative-dominated Senate.
“We found out that the industry minister Mr. Clement sent an e-mail to Conservative senators telling them not to vote for it, and this is a bill that passed in the House of Commons,” said Davies.
“I think people feel it’s just so undemocratic and so high-handed and so outrageous that they would dare to kill something that actually is of very basic importance to people globally.”
Other bills that will die in the Senate include Bill C-389, B.C. MP Bill Siksay's bill on transgender rights.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to meet with the governor general Saturday to trigger a May election.