COLUMN: Political shifts in Surrey keep candidates moving

Surrey's representation in the provincial legislature will change significantly after the next election.

The Surrey representation in the provincial legislature after next May’s election will probably be very similar to what it is today – but it will be challenging to figure out which areas of the city some MLAs represent.

This is due to Surrey getting a ninth riding as a result of population growth.

Redistribution added two new seats to the provincial legislature, for a new total of 87 after the next election. Surrey MLAs will hold more than 10 per cent of those seats. This means that boundaries for every Surrey riding are changing.

As political parties get set for the election, several MLAs have already said they plan to change which riding they represent.

Surrey-Panorama MLA Marvin Hunt, first elected in the 2013 election for the BC Liberals, will now run in Surrey-Cloverdale. He actually lives within the new boundaries of the riding.

Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux, current minister of children and family development first elected in 2009 in Surrey-Panorama, plans to run in the new Surrey South riding. She, too, lives within the riding boundaries.

Surrey South is an odd mixture of various communities – the most jumbled up of all the nine ridings. The eastern portion of Cloverdale and Clayton has been lumped in with most of Surrey’s agricultural area and all of South Surrey east of 128 Street, north of 24 Avenue and northeast of Highway 99.

The only current Surrey MLA who is not returning for election is Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg. An MLA for 19 years, he announced his intentions, in an interview with Peace Arch News Monday, not to run.

In the 2013 election, Surrey residents elected five BC Liberal and three NDP MLAs.

The only Surrey incumbent to lose his seat was MLA Jagrup Brar, first elected in a 2004 byelection in Surrey-Panorama for the NDP. In Surrey-Fleetwood in 2013, he lost to BC Liberal candidate Peter Fassbender by just 200 votes.

Surrey-Fleetwood, the closest race in Surrey in 2013, may be that way again. Fassbender has a high profile, so will have the advantage of incumbency. However, the demographics of the riding mean he needs to get a number of votes from people who voted NDP in past elections.

Harry Bains of the NDP has again been nominated to run in Surrey-Newton. The other two NDP MLAs in Surrey – Bruce Ralston in Surrey-Whalley and Sue Hammell in Surrey-Green Timbers – are also likely to run again. All three seats, even with redistribution, seem pretty safe for the NDP.

Redistribution has changed the former Surrey-Tynehead seat quite a bit and it even has a new name – Surrey-Guildford. Amrik Virk, minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services, won Surrey-Tynehead comfortably for the BC Liberals in 2013, and before that Dave Hayer held the seat for the BC Liberals through three straight elections.

With the new boundaries, it could be an easier seat for the NDP to win.

At this point – more than seven months from election day – the BC Liberals are doing well in overall polls. The party has been boosted significantly by the decision to impose a foreign buyers’ tax on housing in Metro Vancouver.

The NDP is still fleshing out its policy, but thus far the party does not look much different from the party led by Adrian Dix in the 2013 campaign. New leader John Horgan is energetic and personable, but he has a significant hill to climb to become premier.

In Surrey, the NDP will likely win the three seats it holds and the BC Liberals will retain Surrey-White Rock, Surrey-Cloverdale and Surrey-Panorama fairly easily. The BC Liberals also should win Surrey South easily. The most competitive ridings may be Surrey-Fleetwood and Surrey-Guildford, where parties will put a lot of effort to win those two seats.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News. frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

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