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COMMENTARY · 3rd May 2011
Merv Ritchie
The May 2nd election results were a surprise on many fronts. At official NW gatherings the NDP were expressing great joy and sadness at the same time; having won official opposition status was great but watching Harper win a majority was depressing. It was the wide margin of error in the election polling that presents the greater surprise however.

In the 2006 general election the pollsters of the day; SES, Strategic and Ipsos were all very close in predicting the result, all within one or two points. The last poll taken prior to the vote had the Bloc at 11%, exactly what they got. The Conservatives at 36%, exactly what they got. The Greens at 6%, they got 5. The Liberals at 30%, exactly what they got and the NDP at 17 %, they got 18.

In the 2008 general election Angus Reid posted the last results and they posted the Bloc would receive 9%, they got 10. The Conservatives at 37% they got 38, the Greens at 7%, exactly what they got. The Liberals at 27%, they got 26 and the NDP at 20% they got 18.

The 2000 election was equally close to the polling results. The Bloc was predicted to get 10%, they got 11. The Reform Alliance 25%, they got 26, the Liberals 41%, just what they got. The NDP at 9%, just what they got and the PC party at 12%, just what they got.

Only the 2004 election saw a vary to the final results from the polling numbers and even then they were almost dead on. The Bloc, Conservatives and the Greens got exactly what was expected; 12, 30 and 4% respectively. The Liberals got 37% instead of the expected 34 and the NDP were expected to get 17%, 15% or 20% according to the last three polls and the received 16%.

This election however was strikingly different. The NDP were on a clear upwards surge and the Conservatives were either stable or falling depending on whose polls were looked at. The last Poll done by Forum had all parties except the Conservatives and the NDP pegged at what they got. The Conservatives however received 40% when they were expected to receive only 36. The NDP final tally fell to barely 30% when they were on an upward move expecting to get over 33%. From an expected 3 point difference to a 10 point difference is very significant.

A few points either way can make or break a campaign. It remains to be determined why so many people switched their vote at the last minute. The news of the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden may have had an emotional impact on the voters or it could have been the poll numbers were just inaccurate. We believe the former is true.

In one of Prime Minister Harpers first speeches he stated the west could now breathe easier as the Liberals and NDP policies against the Tar Sands and tankers on the West Coast were bad policies; indicating these economically advantageous projects could now proceed. These are clear benefits for the American consumption of fossil fuel; not so much for maintaining the pristine environment, and for the economic benefit derived from the environment, presently enjoyed by those living on the Northwest coast.

The Asia Pacific Gateway and Corridor with the Ports and shipping terminals at Kitimat and Prince Rupert are international goldmines. The election of Steven Harper with a majority government opens up the door for a wholesale heyday similar to what Gordon Campbell did with his majority; the loss of BC Rail, BC Hydro, BC Ferries, BC rivers with no accountability to the people. With this securing of a majority, squeezing through the grasp of an expected minority, we can expect the wholesale slaughter of all that is treasured by British Columbians and Canadians, for the economic benefit of a few, to continue.

Campbell simply determined he didn’t need the legislature and it barely opened for debate on any issue. Will Harper do the same and just unilaterally determine what is best? We expect nothing less.