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COLUMN: Election is unnecessary
Voters in Surrey, Delta, White Rock and the rest of Canada are about to be plunged into a completely unnecessary federal election campaign.
However, in Ottawa, it appears most MPs and party leaders are absolutely convinced that the country needs yet another federal campaign — the fourth in less than seven years.
This is the result of seven straight years of minority government, where an election call can always lurk just around the corner. However, out here in the real world, people are much more concerned about their day-to-day living — finding and keeping a job, paying the bills, taking care of their families and trying to get ahead in challenging economic times.
For B.C. voters, a federal election is particularly annoying — particularly as the end result is likely to be the same as what we now have, a Conservative minority government.
B.C. voters will likely be gearing up for the second of what is may as many be four votes in a year, the HST referendum, even before the federal vote is held. That referendum is now set for Sept. 24, but new Premier Christy Clark has said she would like it moved up to June 24.
The federal election will likely be held either May 2 or 9, depending on when the government falls.
After the HST referendum, there could be a provincial election. Clark wants one before the already-set date of May, 2013. However, there are municipal elections scheduled for November, so Clark may hold off until early next year. That decision will be up to her, and will likely be related to the NDP’s choice of new party leader and the fate of the HST referendum.
How will a federal election shape up in this region? There will be one new MP for sure, as Delta-Richmond East MP John Cummins is not running again. He is one of the original class of Reform MPs elected in 1993, and has been among the most outspoken Conservative MPs.
The Conservatives selected Delta Board of Education chair Dale Saip as their candidate at a hastily-called nomination meeting on Monday, and he has to be the most likely winner in that riding, which has been Conservative or Reform in every election since Delta became a separate constituency in 1988.
In the other four ridings in this region, all incumbent MPs will be running again. Despite grumblings from some of his former supporters, Russ Hiebert will likely win South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, which is a solid Conservative riding. The only way he could lose would be through a strong challenge from an independent candidate, which is always difficult in a federal election.
Sukh Dhaliwal will likely prevail in Newton-North Delta. He has served two terms as a Liberal MP and is popular in the riding. The riding traditionally splits three ways, but the split has always favoured the incumbent. Dhaliwal won in 2006 with 34 per cent of the vote, when it was an open seat.
Dona Cadman has been quite low-profile since winning Surrey North for the Conservatives in 2008 — much lower-profile than her husband, the much-loved Chuck Cadman, who served as MP in the riding from 1997 until his untimely death in 2005.
That riding will be a close contest. Cadman won by just over 1,000 votes in 2008, over NDP candidate Rachid Arab.
Fleetwood-Port Kells was a close race in 2006, when incumbent Conservative MP Nina Grewal won by just 828 votes. In 2008, she won over Brenda Locke of the Liberals by just under 9,000 votes. In third place was Nao Fernando of the NDP, who is running again. The Liberals do not have a candidate yet.
The Conservatives have been working hard to shore up their position among immigrant voters, who used to favour the Liberals by solid margins.
This may help them hold on to Surrey North and Fleetwood-Port Kells, but Dhaliwal will be hard to beat in Newton-North Delta.
It is likely that, when the votes have been counted, this region will once again have sent four Conservatives and one Liberal to Ottawa.
Frank Bucholtz writes Fridays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.