British Columbi­a’s New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty (NDP) may be lead­ing in the polls ahead of this Tues­day’s provin­cial elec­tion, but in order to actu­al­ly assume pow­er and become the major­i­ty par­ty in the B.C. Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly, the NDP has to cap­ture at least half a dozen rid­ings cur­rent­ly rep­re­sent­ed by Lib­er­als or inde­pen­dents, plus hold onto the thir­ty-six it’s already got.

B.C. JournalOne of the par­ty’s best prospects, civ­il rights activist David Eby, is run­ning in Van­cou­ver — Point Grey, a rid­ing that encom­pass­es the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia and is rep­re­sent­ed by Christy Clark… the pre­mier of the province.

Pri­or to 2011, Van­cou­ver — Point Grey was rep­re­sent­ed by Gor­don Camp­bell, the province’s for­mer pre­mier, who now holds the plum post of High Com­mis­sion­er to the Unit­ed Kingdom.

(The High Com­mis­sion­er heads Canada’s diplo­mat­ic mis­sion to Britain).

Camp­bell won the rid­ing in four con­sec­u­tive elec­tions, but except for in 2001, his mar­gin of vic­to­ry was nev­er that great. In 2011, the NDP real­ized that the rid­ing was ripe for the tak­ing when Eby came up short against Camp­bel­l’s suc­ces­sor (and now Pre­mier) Christy Clark by only five hun­dred and six­ty-four votes.

Eby decid­ed in Decem­ber 2012 to seek a rematch, and is now run­ning against Clark for a sec­ond time, hav­ing been enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly nom­i­nat­ed by the NDP. He’s wide­ly con­sid­ered one of their ris­ing stars. The Tyee con­sid­ers him the favorite to win on Tues­day, giv­en his ener­gy-infused can­di­da­cy and Clark’s grow­ing unpopularity.

Tyee call: Like­ly BC New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Pre­mier Christy Clark is run­ning against promi­nent Van­cou­ver civ­il rights advo­cate and lawyer David Eby. It’s going to be a tight race, but with Clark’s approval rat­ings tank­ing, it’s look­ing like Eby will eke out a win.

As Elec­tion Day approach­es, he and his team are work­ing hard to get out the vote and turn the rid­ing orange. The Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer’s Joel Con­nel­ly and I stopped by his bustling office on West Broad­way in the Kit­si­lano neigh­bor­hood (known to locals as “Kits”) to get a sense of how his cam­paign is going.

David Eby's campaign office
David Eby’s cam­paign office in Kit­si­lano. A big, col­or­ful blue and orange sign out front makes it plain­ly clear that this is the NDP’s home base in the area. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Eby, the for­mer direc­tor of the B.C. Civ­il Lib­er­ties Asso­ci­a­tion, is an impres­sive and charis­mat­ic can­di­date with a calm and cheery demeanor. He cur­rent­ly serves as an adjunct pro­fes­sor in the Fac­ul­ty of Law at the Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia and has been rec­og­nized by human rights groups for his con­tri­bu­tions to the cause. He is also the Pres­i­dent of the Cana­di­an HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

Eby believes in peo­ple-pow­ered pol­i­tics; he has spent a lot of time knock­ing on doors and call­ing vot­ers (which is what a good can­di­date does).

His sup­port­ers are tak­ing advan­tage of decent weath­er this after­noon to go out can­vass­ing through­out the rid­ing in team, car­ry­ing clip­boards and stacks of Vote NDP/Eby fly­ers. Among them are Uni­ver­si­ty of Saska­toon stu­dents Mitch & Mitch, who’ve come all the way from Saskatchewan to help the Eby campaign.

David Eby talks with supporters
David Eby speaks with sup­port­ers prepar­ing to go can­vass­ing in the province’s best-edu­cat­ed rid­ing (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Eby’s 2013 cam­paign has been draw­ing atten­tion. He’s been pro­filed by the Globe & Mail, Canada’s news­pa­per of record, and MetroNews.

Envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion is one of the val­ues at the heart of Eby’s cam­paign. In an inter­view, he explained why he’s not afraid of hav­ing a strong, prin­ci­pled posi­tion oppos­ing an increase in fos­sil fuel exports — unlike his oppo­nent, Christy Clark.

“It gives me a cou­ple of advan­tages,” he said. “One is, it makes it very easy to talk about the issue with peo­ple. They under­stand where we stand.”

“And the sec­ond is, it makes it eas­i­er for peo­ple who hear that posi­tion to make a deci­sion on how to vote. If they think that Van­cou­ver should be a major oil export port and there should be four hun­dred tankers every year pass­ing their front door, then they should vote Lib­er­al. And if they don’t think that, they should vote NDP.”

He also assert­ed that the next gov­ern­ment should­n’t be ori­ent­ed towards devel­op­ing a twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry ener­gy sector.

“If you look at the Lib­er­al cam­paign plat­form, you’d think that the only way that we could grow our econ­o­my is through nat­ur­al gas… that every­thing else is des­tined to not work out.” Cit­ing the film and tourism indus­tries, he added, “I think we’re more than just a province that mines or moves resources around.”

He described the rematch against Clark “real­ly weird”, explain­ing that Clark has­n’t shown up to all-can­di­dates meet­ings or com­mu­ni­ty events and has­n’t been vis­i­ble until very recent­ly. “It’s like cam­paign­ing against a ghost,” he said.

“For the first half of the cam­paign, dur­ing the writ peri­od, they did­n’t even drop a fly­er in the rid­ing… More recent­ly they’ve dropped a cou­ple now. But it was so strange. There were hard­ly any signs for the longest time.”

Clark has sup­port­ers run­ning phone banks, but there is scant evi­dence that she’s mak­ing an effort to per­son­al­ly con­nect with her own con­stituents, Eby added.

“I think that peo­ple rec­og­nize that she does­n’t live here, in the rid­ing, that she has­n’t come to the meet­ings, that she has­n’t been in the community.”

“I would say she’s aban­doned the rid­ing, but she would have had to have been here in the first place to have aban­doned it,” he concluded.

Six oth­er can­di­dates are also chal­leng­ing Clark in the 2013 elec­tion: Inde­pen­dent William Gibbens, Hol­lis Lin­schoten of the “Work Less Par­ty”, Con­ser­v­a­tive Duane Nick­ull, Lib­er­tar­i­an Marisa Palmer, Green Fran­coise Raunet and Bernard Yank­son of the “Plat­inum Par­ty”. Each is sure to draw votes, but the race is prin­ci­pal­ly between Eby and Clark, with Eby stand­ing a good chance of defeat­ing Clark.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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