Monday, May 8, 2017
One key decision ahead for Tuesday: Select the candidate who will best represent the North Coast in Victoria
And while the election campaign is very much that of key provincial issues, with the platforms of the three main parties offering very different options for our consideration, those notes make for only one part of the decision making ahead.
When we make the trip to the polling booth tomorrow, it is local race and the local issues that should be the defining factor for those casting their votes and more importantly, give voters pause for a moment, to decide which of the candidates best offers up the ability to advocate for the issues that are most important to this riding and who will serve as our voice to Victoria.
Since the start of the campaign five weeks ago, a few themes have evolved as the main focus for the local quest for votes, a running narrative that the politicians have chosen to follow in order to present their campaigns through April and into the final days before election day.
The first has been the NDP's strategy to put the spotlight on Christy Clark, so much so, that it became a bit of a mantra for Jennifer Rice our incumbent MLA and North Coast NDP candidate.
Over the five weeks of the campaign Ms. Rice has held true to the blue print from the head office and made sure to work the name of the Premier into every possible topic during the course of all of her public sessions in the last month.
The bulk of her campaign has been one of making reference to the NDP Policy options and what leader John Horgan has planned for the province, should he and his party gain the confidence of the voters on election day.
However, such was the pace of the frequent mentions of Ms. Clark as part of the local campaign, that Ms. Rice tended to not offer a lot of background when it came to her time in office over the last four years, with her commentary providing only a basic sketch of some of her key themes.
In effect, despite four years of service to the community, she seems to have left it to the voter to do their own research on what issues that she may have raised, or taken lead on during her time in the Legislature.
For those looking for a review of her engagement from Victoria, we offer up our Legislature Archive, which has tracked many of the issues related to the North Coast that made for her talking points over the the last four years.
That constant focus by the incumbent MLA on the Premier, was an approach which caught the attention of the Liberal candidate looking to replace her in Victoria.
As the North Coast campaign built up its steam, Herb Pond frequently made mention of the fact that while he kept hearing about Ms. Clark over and over during the last month, as he looked around the various venues through his travels across the riding he observed that she wasn't there in the room.
For his part the Liberal candidate made use of that talking point to turn the voters attention to what he said was the true issue for the riding, that of which of those candidates seeking our vote can represent Prince Rupert as well as the North Coast and Haida Gwaii best.
Observing that the main theme for voters to consider on May 9th, wasn't so much the name of Christy Clark, but rather the three names on the ballot for election day, Arendt, Pond and Rice.
The majority of Mr. Pond's campaign narrative was directed towards jobs and the need to deliver a strong economy to the North Coast to bring improvements to the region, as well as his thoughts on what approach an MLA should take to be in step with local council's and school districts.
When it comes to his political resume, for the most part residents of the region will be looking back to his time as Mayor of Prince Rupert, as well as his work with area First Nations and his work in the formative days of the region's LNG pursuits as the key areas to measure his campaign themes by.
Over at the Green campaign, while he no doubt he would like to be part of what the Green's suggest will be a Green Wave about to come ashore this election cycle, Hondo Arendt for much of the campaign seemed to provide for the role of the Greek chorus for the last five weeks of the North Coast campaign.
As he has noted since the Greens announced his candidacy, he is no stranger to the North Coast political scene having run for the party in a number of past election cycles, spreading the word of their policies and inviting residents to give their message a look.
Through the last five weeks Mr. Arendt made a good case for voters to toss aside their old way of looking at BC politics and observed quite correctly, that the Greens are the only ones that have policies in place for those that are adamant that there be No LNG industry developed in BC.
In addition to that focus on LNG, he also offered up a number of other resource initiatives that local residents may find worthy of a look over.
Much of his presence through the month however, has been that of offering some of the insight perhaps found in his political science courses at NWCC.
His commentary during the course of the two debates that framed the campaign, served to hold the other two candidates accountable for some of their ongoing themes, with a helpful reminder from time to time that a bit of fact checking might be required by voters when it comes to some of the more enthusiastic pronouncements from his competitors for the North Coast vote.
As North Coast residents prepare to consider the candidates points, cast their votes and then view the results later in the evening tomorrow, the sense of engagement in the election seems to have been positive to this point.
Whether it was through participation in the electoral forum process, engagement in the various social media options, or by casting a vote in advance polls held through the course of the last ten days.
The advance polling numbers have offered up some indication of that interest in the run up to tomorrow's vote, with the North Coast finding 2,213 of the 14,220 registered voters having already marked their "X".
Next door in the Skeena riding, where much attention has been focused in recent weeks, the advance polls are particularly interesting and indicate a strong interest in the campaign in the Terrace/Kitimat corridor.
From the advance poll opportunities in Skeena, Election BC officials have found one fifth of the riding's registered voters having already cast a ballot.
With the final advance opportunity of Saturday concluded, the totals saw 4,053 of Skeena's 20,002 registered voters take part in the early voting days.
As we all head to the polls tomorrow, it is perhaps Mr. Pond's observation from the campaign trail that best explores how we should approach the election when we pick up the pencil to mark our ballot.
While the election campaign has been framed by the larger political issues, party platforms and the images of the party leaders. In the end, the main consideration for those on the North Coast should be on which candidate they believe is the most deserving of their confidence on election day.
Regardless of your political persuasion, political bias, or general impressions of the province's political atmosphere, whichever candidate can best advocate for the region in Victoria and who provides the best option to deliver results for the North Coast should be the candidate to benefit from your X.
With the final hours of the 2017 campaign now upon us, we have a number of items for your consideration as part of a final review before the votes are counted. One last glimpse at some background information as to the issues and notes of the campaign trail over the last five weeks or so.
You can start your campaign review with our twin election digest options, one featuring the news items of the local campaign, the other taken from our political portal D'Arcy McGee which has tracked many of the provincial issues over the last month.
For a snapshot of some of the key discussion issues of the last five weeks, we offer up our review of the two main political forums of the local campaign.
The first which was hosted by CFNR (along with a mini forum hosted by DayBreak North)
The other, the larger public forum held at the Lester Centre on April 24th, which saw the candidates answer a range of questions from the media and public.
You can review our notes and view the replays of those options below:
Radio Debates set the scene for Monday's North Coast All Candidates meeting
(view replay of CFNR forum here)
(Daybreak North replay can be found here)
April 24 campaign forum revisited
(view replay of Prince Rupert forum here)
After all that intensive research, it's over to you, the voter.
The democratic process is only as strong as the effort that the citizens of the province put into it, if you haven't voted in the advance polls, the one final opportunity to make your voice heard and to offer your endorsement to whichever party you believe has the best plan moving forward comes tomorrow.
Choose as you will, but mostly be sure to exercise your right to choose.
The polls open at 8AM and will remain open until 8 PM.
In Prince Rupert, General voting takes place at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre.
For the remainder of the North Coast, you can find your polling stations from this information page from Elections BC.
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