Opinion: Paths to victory hinge on key ridings

On the eve of the 2017 B.C. election, I used this space to plot a potential path to victory for the B.C. NDP and, wouldn’t you know it, they followed it almost to the letter. Now the party has to do it again and go a few steps more to get to the hallowed ground of majority government territory. However, the B.C. Liberals also face a similar path ahead.

In the last election, the NDP needed to run the table from Boundary Road dividing Vancouver from Burnaby, and win every Liberal-held seat from there out past Maple Ridge. It also had to pick up a Liberal seat on the North Shore, one more in Vancouver and a couple in Surrey.

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It did all that and still fell short of a majority because it also lost three NDP-held seats. However, the NDP was able to form government after winning support from the three B.C. Green MLAs.

Not a lot has changed since then. The path to victory on Oct. 24 remains largely the same for both the NDP and the B.C. Liberals.

That path still chiefly runs through Metro Vancouver suburbs as well as a number of ridings from outside that region.

The NDP’s challenge is to hang on to about eight former Liberal-held ridings in North Vancouver (Lonsdale), Burnaby (North and Lougheed), Port Moody-Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and Surrey (Panorama and Guildford). The Liberals hope to get at least some of them back.

Even though their party has not won a seat in Richmond in almost 50 years, the NDP is hoping for a breakthrough there.

On Vancouver Island, the NDP is hoping to reclaim Cowichan Valley (a longtime NDP stronghold won by Green leader Sonia Fursteneau last time) while both the NDP and the Liberals are eyeing two other Green ridings both parties have won before: Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Saanich North and the Islands.

Around the province, the NDP seems to be targeting three Liberal ridings in particular: Skeena, Boundary-Similkameen and Columbia River-Revelstoke.

For the NDP to win a majority this time around it needs to hold its current seats and pick up at least four more from the Liberals and the Greens. Best bets seem to be Coquitlam-Burke Mtn., Vancouver-False Creek, Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Cowichan Valley.

As for the B.C. Liberals, they need to hold almost all of their current seats and win back several seats they lost to the NDP in 2017. They are eyeing Surrey-Panorama, Courtenay-Comox, Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Saanich North and the Islands as their best hopes.

The one caveat to these potential scenarios is the B.C. Conservative Party, which is planning to run a handful of candidates in ridings that could provide headaches for the Liberals.

Almost any vote for a Conservative candidate is a vote lost for a Liberal one.

The Conservatives likely cost the Liberals the riding of Courtenay-Comox in 2017. Its candidate received 2,201 votes and the NDP squeaked by with a tiny 189-vote margin of victory.

So the Conservatives may prove to be a spoiler in some Liberal-held ridings that are not generally considered competitive. We shall see.

In any event, ignore those pre-election polls. This race will tighten up and the path to victory may look eerily similar to 2017.

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