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b.c. election 2017

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan arrives for a leaders debate in Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, April 26, 2017.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

The securities division of one of Canada's major banks is predicting an NDP win in next month's B.C. election, and warning of "policy uncertainty" on the energy front as a result.

Friday's research report from TD Securities Inc. says that, as a result of a likely change of government in the province, investors should consider reducing exposure to B.C. energy producers in favour of those in Alberta.

TD's Aaron Bilkoski, an equity-research analyst, warned in the report of uncertainty akin to 2015 when the Alberta NDP ousted the long-serving Progressive Conservative government and Alberta producers "underperformed" their B.C. peers by 10 per cent.

"Using Alberta as a proxy, we saw the NDP usher in an era of policy uncertainty for the energy sector," Mr. Bilkoski wrote.

"In turn, this resulted in notable share price under-performance for Alberta-based producers in subsequent weeks. We believe that an NDP victory on May 9 could have a similar impact on B.C.-based producers."

In particular, TD Securities raises concerns about an NDP commitment to appoint a scientific panel to review fracking's impact on water, seismic activity "and the environment in general" as well as review oil and gas subsidies.

The NDP platform links the need for a review of fracking to a potential expansion of exploration for natural gas in the northeastern area of the province.

On Friday, the NDP's campaign director accused TD of meddling in an election, and said voters, not a corporation, will have their say on the issue when they go to the polls.

"Here is a big bank out of Bay Street trying to participate in a British Columbia election that British Columbians will decide," Bob Dewar said in an interview. "Someone should tell the people on Bay Street that we live in a democracy and people choose their governments. That's what democracy is all about."

He said he would not be surprised to see the BC Liberals using the TD assessment against the NDP in their campaign rhetoric ahead of voting day. "I think there will be a lot of fear mongering in the next little while."

Mr. Biloski suggests that energy is not as dominant to B.C.'s economy as Alberta's so the impact on the B.C. economy would not be as pronounced.

Contacted for comment, he said his report speaks for itself.

While TD Securities does not mention the issue, the NDP also opposes the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and Burnaby. "We will use every tool in our toolbox to stop the project from going ahead," says the party's platform document.

The NDP view has put party Leader John Horgan at odds with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as she seeks pipelines to expand and diversify markets for her province's hard-hit energy sector.

As a result of the division, Ms. Notley has banned members of her team from working for the New Democrats in B.C. during the election. During a campaign news conference in Maple Ridge, B.C., earlier in April, Mr. Horgan shrugged off Ms. Notley's action, saying he is focused on trying to become B.C. premier.

The federal government has approved the project and the BC Liberals have offered conditional support for the pipeline expansion.

While the TD report calls the BC NDP a "strong front runner," it does not take into account the 2013 B.C. election when polls predicted an NDP win, but the Liberals eventually won a fourth consecutive majority government.

John Horgan says he feels 'passionately about issues' after the B.C. NDP leader’s temperament was questioned during Wednesday’s debate. Liberal Leader Christy Clark says a premier must be 'calm' on issues like softwood lumber.

The Canadian Press

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