Will they return home or have they found a new one?
It’s no secret that when federal elections roll around, voters in these parts have been known to lean to the right. From John Reynolds, Tom Siddon and Stan Wilbee to John Cummins and Kerry-Lynne Findlay, the right-of-centre party of record held sway here for more than 40 years.
That all changed four years ago when thousands of people in South Delta voted Liberal for what’s likely the first time to give Carla Qualtrough a resounding victory. That triumph has created a million-dollar question: Was what happened in 2015 an aberration and will those voters return to their roots or are they comfortable exactly where they find themselves? I’ll give you a definitive answer late on Oct. 21, but in the meantime, it’s worth looking at factors that could come into play.
There was a great deal of animosity directed towards the Conservatives, which turned a 15,000-vote victory for Findlay in Delta-Richmond East in 2011 into a 9,000-vote deficit in the reconfigured riding of Delta in 2015. It’s four years later and both Stephen Harper and Findlay are no longer around, so that anger has almost certainly dissipated which could pave the way for voters to find their way home.
It’s unlikely we’re going to see Scheer-mania sweep the country so I don’t see a bump there, but in former Tsawwassen First Nation legislator Tanya Corbet, the Conservatives have a strong local candidate with deep community roots.
On the other side of the equation, Qualtrough was a virtual unknown when she rode a red wave all the way to Ottawa in the last election, but she’s since established herself as one of the key members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and a leading Liberal voice in B.C.
If traditional Conservative voters that went Liberal last time go blue in October, I don’t think many would do so because they’re dissatisfied with Qualtrough’s performance, but rather because they’re fair weather Liberals and have seen four years of governing take the bloom off Trudeau’s rose.
One certainty in all this conjecture is that Delta will be a battleground this time around as both parties will throw all they’ve got at the riding in the hopes they have the right answer to the question.