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B.C. Premier Christy Clark, left, Sasktachewan Premier Brad Wall, centre, and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach hold up towels in support of the Vancouver Canucks following a meeting in Vancouver. (ANDY CLARK/Andy Clark/Reuters)
B.C. Premier Christy Clark, left, Sasktachewan Premier Brad Wall, centre, and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach hold up towels in support of the Vancouver Canucks following a meeting in Vancouver. (ANDY CLARK/Andy Clark/Reuters)

Gary Mason

In politics and hockey, B.C. goes to overtime Add to ...

Those poor voters in the provincial riding of Vancouver-Point Grey. After this year, they'll probably be turned off politics forever. In fact, they may already be and they haven't even cast a single ballot yet. But they'll soon get their chance. Boy, will they ever.

This may be the craziest year in politics British Columbia has ever seen. Yet, politics is the last thing West Coasters are thinking about. Not sure if you've heard, but the Vancouver Canucks are winning the Stanley Cup. The parade route is already set.

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When the Canucks play, everything shuts down in B.C. When they score, you can hear the roar from the living rooms and the bars throughout the province. Needless to say, it's been a struggle for politicians vying for the public's attention. And they've been all over the place these days.

British Columbians have already endured two provincial leadership campaigns in 2011. The NDP recently had the misfortune of having their leadership vote fall on the same day, at the same time, as the Canucks were on the ice against the hated Chicago Blackhawks.

Whose great idea was that? At least the party had the good sense to broadcast the game on two giant television screens while the voting was taking place. Otherwise, the media might have walked out en masse. Delegates, too.

And for the past couple of weeks, of course, federal candidates have been trolling for votes from Port Hardy to Pouce Coupe. So far, I'm not aware of anyone scheduling a campaign event up against a Canucks game. What would be the point? No one would show up except for the candidate's spouse and children - if that.

The federal leaders' English-language debate attracted an astounding 31 per cent fewer viewers in B.C. this year than it did in 2008 (although the numbers were up almost everywhere else). That's because people in B.C. are thinking about only one thing: hockey.

But back to those unfortunate souls in Vancouver-Point Grey. On May 2, they'll be trudging to the polls to vote in the federal election. A couple of weeks later, they'll be heading to a local community centre or high-school gymnasium to mark their choice in a provincial by-election, in which seatless B.C. Premier Christy Clark is running.

Before summer is out, they, along with their fellow British Columbians, will be asked to determine the fate of the HST through a provincial referendum. The only good news is, they can mail in their decision. In November, meantime, civic elections will be held throughout the province.

If that isn't enough, Ms. Clark has all but said there'll be a provincial election this year, too. She wants to seize on her current popularity and the extended honeymoon she's having with the media.

For those counting, that's five votes of one kind or another that people in Vancouver-Point Grey could potentially be called on to make this year. Yes, ultimately, it's only one more than everyone else in the province would be subjected to (because of that by-election). Still, democracy doesn't usually come calling five times in the same calendar year in Canada.

Voter turnout for municipal elections is dreadful at the best of times. I can't imagine what it'll be like in an area where residents may have already voted (or not) four times in the previous six months.

Then again, maybe we shouldn't feel too sorry for the folks living in Vancouver-Point Grey's leafy confines. They may be put through a lot this year, but most of their homes are worth millions. And they're among the few in Vancouver who can afford playoff tickets. So life isn't all bad.

Follow on Twitter: @garymasonglobe

 

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