7 Pre­dic­tions for B.C. B C pol­i­tics in 2017

The Miracle - - Front Page - By Keith Bal­drey Global News

A fter the crazi­ness that char­ac­ter­ized so much of the po­lit­i­cal world in 2016, I sup­pose I should be wary of mak­ing many pre­dic­tions about what to ex­pect in the com­ing year. But where’s the fun in play­ing it safe? So here we go. Look for at least some of th­ese things to come true in 2017! I won’t pre­dict the out­come of the provin­cial election in May, but I will pre­dict this: the lead­ers of all three ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties will post per­sonal re-election vic­to­ries with ease. All three won by large mar­gins in 2013 (or, in Premier Christy Clark’s case, in a sub­se­quent by-election after she was booted from her Van­cou­ver-Point Grey rid­ing) and no mat­ter the out­come of the gen­eral election, they should do so again. Speak­ing of those lead­ers, who­ever loses the election be­tween Clark and NDP leader John Hor­gan will likely pack it in and step down as leader. The one caveat to that is that Clark is a po­lit­i­cal an­i­mal with enor­mous con­fi­dence and optimism who may ar­gue for an­other crack at the ti­tle. Hor­gan, by con­trast, seems frus­trated at times with his

own party and he would greet a loss as the per­fect ex­cuse to say “say­onara” to the old gang. The B.C. Green Party will emerge as the real wild card in the election cam­paign, and if it re­peats the growth in sup­port in about a half dozen rid­ings that it en­joyed in 2013, both the NDP and the B.C. Lib­er­als could be de­nied seats they might have oth­er­wise con­sid­ered safe rid­ings. Party leader An­drew Weaver has the po­ten­tial to have a big im­pact when he’s on the tele­vised lead­ers’ de­bate, which can be a turn­ing point in any cam­paign. All things re­lated to the econ­omy will be the dom­i­nant is­sue in the election cam­paign, but that can be a fairly broadly de­fined is­sue. Job cre­ation, hous­ing, fees and taxes, cost of liv­ing — all can (and likely will) be part of the eco­nomic con­ver­sa­tion. The NDP will un­doubt­edly add af­ford­able day­care to that list, while the B.C. Lib­er­als will ar­gue the New Democrats’ plan is any­thing but af­ford­able, and is a fis­cal dis­as­ter in the mak­ing. That said, look for big in­dus­trial projects such as the Kinder Mor­gan pipe­line ex­pan­sion, the Site C dam, var­i­ous LNG projects and the Massey Bridge re­place­ment to be ma­jor is­sues as well.

The Lib­er­als will ag­gres­sively make th­ese projects a cen­tral theme in their cam­paign, much to the de­light of the Green Party, which will glee­fully op­pose them all and will wel­come the at­ten­tion paid to them. Less en­thu­si­as­tic to talk about them will be the NDP, whose tra­di­tional base of sup­port­ers are split on things like this. The soft­wood lum­ber dis­pute with the U.S. will not fly un­der the radar for much longer. Come March, du­ties and coun­ter­vails will be slapped on B.C. ship­ments to the U.S., and that will trans­late into sig­nif­i­cant job losses in B.C.’s for­est in­dus­try (most of them in the In­te­rior and the North). Res­i­dents of Metro Van­cou­ver don’t quite have their heads around this tick­ing time bomb of an is­sue, but they soon will. His­tor­i­cally, B.C. wins th­ese ar­gu­ments about soft­wood is­sues when they fi­nally land in an in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal’s ju­ris­dic­tion, but that can take years. In the mean­time, brace your­selves. The B.C. econ­omy will slow down sig­nif­i­cantly, but will still be near the top when com­pared to other prov­inces. The hous­ing sec­tor — which it can be ar­gued has been most re­spon­si­ble for the

Keith Bal­drey is chief po­lit­i­cal reporter for Global BC.

prov­ince’s red-hot per­for­mance the past two years — will cool down, but tourism and hi-tech will re­main strong. What’s hard to read on this front is the im­pact the poli­cies of U.S. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump will have on Canada, and by ex­ten­sion on B.C. While so much about him seems fake, his pro­tec­tion­ist and anti-glob­al­iza­tion at­ti­tudes seem gen­uine, and that does not bode well for us. We re­main the mouse sleep­ing next to the ele­phant, and we may get bruised — or even squashed. So there you go, my top seven picks. When have I ever been wrong?

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