In early March, we struck a panel of 40 undecided voters from all over B.C., and hoped they would give us insight into their view of the election campaign and how it would inform their voting decision. As the campaign drew to a close, we asked them to tell us how they reached their decision and how their view is different now than it was when the process began. Online, we're posting the full responses of the 15 who replied, edited primarily for clarity.
Two questions factored most in my decision process: Which of the two front-running parties do I prefer to form government in the immediate term and which party do I want to see in ascendance in future elections?
In the first case, I trust neither Adrian Dix nor Christy Clark but would still prefer the NDP, rather than the Liberals, form government. However, the NDP incumbent for Cowichan Valley, Bill Routley, has a lock on re-election and will get far more votes than needed to beat any challenger under our first-past-the-post electoral system. A vote for him will be a vote wasted, in other words, whereas a vote for someone else will at least boost that candidate's electoral showing and could help signal change for subsequent elections.
In the second case, I want the Green Party to feature prominently in future elections. Shifting from a carbon-based economy to a green-based economy will become increasingly urgent for B.C., and a strengthened Green Party will have the most expertise to guide that transition.
I voted in the advance poll on Wednesday and voted for the Green candidate, Kerry Davis.
– Chrystal Ocean, Duncan
There were three factors that weighed most on my mind throughout the campaign: the economy, trust and accountability, and how my family will be (mostly financially) affected by the next government.
The economy was the most straightforward of the three. The Liberal plan of restraint and an effort to balance the books appealed to me more than the stated intention to run deficits by the NDP. Perhaps the balanced budget will not occur as rapidly as thought, but I would rather see that than an intention to overspend, which will probably balloon even more.
Trust and accountability were difficult. I posed a video question to the leaders (Thanks Globe!), and I felt that Adrian Dix and John Cummins gave the most obvious non-answers. Christy Clark addressed the issue, at least, and Jane Sterk seemed trustworthy but vague. I was given little confidence by any of the parties in terms of trust throughout the campaign, although the Green party probably feels a little less "up to something" than the others. It is an important issue for me and it is probably the one that I feel least secure in going into my vote. I am saddened by having to fall back to the "Devil you know" scenario again, but it could be the situation here.
How my family would be directly affected was also a bit of a grey area. Although I feel that our middle class taxes rates are safest with the Liberals, I am not altogether sure that our salaries, both tied to union negotiating processes, will not benefit from the NDP's long-standing love affair with Big Labour. Wait, didn't they infer that that love affair is cooling down? Hmmm... User fees and surcharges are sneaky ways for all governments to increase revenue without really appearing so and I feel that any of the parties will play that game, so no luck there. Generally, I feel that the Liberals gave me the safest feeling about taxes, as the Conservatives do not seem remotely viable; the Greens seem a bit mystified by the whole process; while the NDP is going to have to find some sort of revenue stream for all of these promises.
The whole campaign has not been extremely volatile, in my opinion, but there have been some directions made clear and some intentions known. Enough, probably, to make a decision in my mind. I shall shuffle to the polls on Tuesday with an intention in my head, and I believe that it will be a fairly well-thought-out one.
I mean, c'mon, everyone loves a good comeback, right?
– Scott Guthrie, Victoria
In these last days of this election cycle, I find myself even more undecided than when we started. The Greens and the Conservatives were never really a factor in this election. The presumptive front runners going in, NDP, played a timid, safe campaign that seemed to focus more on beating down the Liberals than presenting new ideas. Their message never really resonated with me. The Liberals, as the incumbent, played up on what they had done so far, and tried to paint the NDP as a 'not ready for prime time' party.
In the end, neither Dix or Clark came across as trustworthy, or really interested in doing anything for B.C., other than wanting to be the party in power. Both Liberals and NDP went down well-trodden paths that played well to their followers, but no one else.
There were no new ideas, just more ideology.
To that end I will be voting NOTA (None Of The Above), and hoping for a minority government. That is the only way I can see that one winner does not run amok, and is forced to do something while they are in office.
– Chris Dawson, Nelson
When we started this process I was hopeful that the parties would battle it out using voters' concerns and needs of their government as the platform on which to fight about. I was quickly disillusioned when it turned into the sad old games in politics. I am not shocked by it, but find the people we're about to vote to be vacant vessels that we're placing our futures in. While what I'm saying may sound like jaded rhetoric in my short 24 years, I can only imagine how people who are older than I am feel about politics in this province.
Having said that, the defining moment for me in this election came some time ago. While I am not an ethnic minority, the Liberals plans to sway ethnic voters made me swear them off in this election right then. The Conservatives never were and never will be an option to vote for in my lifetime, as my personal beliefs don't align with their party beliefs. The Green party was who I voted for last time as I was living in Elizabeth May's riding at the time and my interest was piqued by their platform and her leadership at that time. That was a let-down. All of this leads me to choose the lesser of many evils this time around, the NDP. Their priorities of environment, poverty, health, and education align with mine, and regardless of their cloaked jabs, constant marketing speak, and games played throughout this campaign, they are who I believe B.C. needs right now and who I will be voting for.
– Justin Watt, Nanaimo
Government and politicians seem to have lost their way. I do not want to vote for a person that will be the premier and claims he/she can solve our problems by throwing money at it or coming up with some murky and illogical policies. Why is the minister of finance a lawyer? Has the minister of education ever sat in the back of the school classroom? Does the minister of transport know which bus lines link from Skytrain to UBC? Politics have been a place of patronage, no skills, and no resolve. These politicians claim they understand our problems, but they have never experienced the problems firsthand. Has the minister of transport ever missed the Skytrain going to work or does the education minister know what is in the Mathematics 10 curriculum With 99 per cent chance, I would say the answer is NO. I don't need a bigger government or a smaller government. I don't need a government that balances budgets nor do I need one that spends money as if it grew on trees. I need a government that has the smarts, resolve, and understanding to face the challenges of governance, and solve the people's problems.
The politicians I want to vote for are the ones that will sit on the bus with you during rush hour to discuss how he can help us solve the transit problems in Vancouver. I want to vote for a politician that will go and talk to the doctors and nurses in the emergency department and ask them for ideas on how to resolve the long waits. I want to vote for a politician that would talk to young people about their dreams and aspirations and how the government can help them achieve it. I want to vote for a politician that involves the people who will be affected by the solution to a problem.
I will not vote for a politician that pretends he understands the problem and shoves a solution down the people's throat. I will not vote for a politician that thinks throwing money at a problem will make the problem go away. I will not vote for a politician that can't back up their talk and negatively attacks another politician. I will not vote for a politician that has his staff members tell him what the problem is and he delegates some other lackey to find a way to solve it.
And on Tuesday, I will vote for NOBODY.
Nobody seems to fit my description of a good politician, good premier, and good government. Nobody understands the troubles of society. Nobody has the resolve, courage, and smarts to come up with innovate solutions. Nobody will tell me how they will spend our tax money in detail.
Everybody seems to be only covering their own butts, Everybody relies on money to solve the troubles of society. Everybody gives me a same vague solution for the same problem. Everybody is the same.
The game has not changed, Nobody has evolved.
– Kevin Fung, Vancouver
I first heard that there was going to be an election about three months ago. Having just turned 18, it would be my first chance to vote and I was actually kind of excited to take part in democracy. The process for deciding who to vote for started then. With very limited knowledge about how the system worked, I planned to study as much as I could about B.C. politics and the parties to make the most informed decision I could.
Looking into the parties, I concentrated on the issues that I felt were important. Things like the economy, the environment, education, getting rid of First Past the Post, etc. I wanted to try and not make any final decisions until a few weeks before the election. I tried to give every party an equal chance to impress me, but I quickly ruled out the Conservatives as I just don't agree with them on much. The next party I didn't agree with was the Liberals; it seems like they want to let everyone fend for themselves but they forget about the people who can't fend for themselves. So that leaves me with the NDP and the Green Party. I agree with the NDP on quite a bit and out of the two major parties I'd rather they win.
I seem to agree most with the Green Party, though. I like their plans of raising the carbon tax and making economies more community-based. Their ideas of alternative voting methods and ending the prohibition on marijuana is a plus. I also agree with their firm stance on the environment. So for this election I am choosing the party that most matches my values and how I think the province should be.
– Nathan Lawko, Victoria
For me, personally, it came down to local issues, so are we really voting for a party or an individual? That is troublesome to say the least because the individual represents a party or at least our political system. As I have already voted I am left feeling that the real issues are not going to be solved. Things like the social issues are always going to be a two-edged sword here in Canada and certainly at the local riding area especially.
If we want schools to be improved, hospitals to be built with doctors and social programs not to be cut, we have need of major employers in B.C.. Which brings us to the next issues, how? Yes, the Great Bear Rainforest is beautiful, but even with tourism dollars it would only I think bring a quarter or half the dollars that a project like Enbridge would. So do we as British Columbians want to sacrifice this land?
– Chris Pond, Summerland
Adrian Dix had, but lost, my vote. In the beginning I sought change and held contempt for the Liberals because of their dishonesty around the HST and BC Rail. I could not believe Adrian Dix would try to hide with his comment that he was young at 35 years old when he made a mistake. More recently I cannot see how he will generate revenue to not only pay for the many services the NDP are promising, but keep up the infrastructure commitments the Liberals have spent money on.
We need an economy with business production to pay for the many things we currently have and those things we will need in the future. Further debt will be borne by the younger people in the province. Last time we had the NDP in government, the economy stopped. More people migrated for the first time from B.C. to other provinces in hope of a future and better livelihood.
The best thing that could happen for the Liberals would be for [Christy Clark] to lose her seat this election, and have the Liberals start over again.
Fortunately we do not have to make the choice of voting for either of them. I will vote today, as I am travelling election day. I have to make my choice based on the local candidates and their political platforms. For me, I want to support a younger, up-and-coming candidate that may change the direction of the Liberal party in B.C. It may take him another four years but he could become a challenging candidate in the future.
Despite their many problems the Liberals represent a closer view to mine regarding the economy, growth, and political philosophy. I too want services and want to help those in need, but to do so requires economic development and growth. Potential stagnation and increased taxes for programs won't encourage business development in the province. It may drive some away. Socialism is not to be feared. It is just like a bike lane. It sits there, people use it to their advantage and expect it to be there for them, but it does not generate any business or development. It needs service and costs. Under the NDP the only growth may be the bureaucracy or civil service sector. We shall see and have another say in four more years, whatever outcome takes place Tuesday.
– Roger Gosselin, Campbell River
I am still completely undecided. One minute I'm voting for the Liberals and the next I'm voting for the NDP. Two minutes later I think about voting Green. None of the parties really addressed the main issue for me: the ferries. They all basically said, the system will remain as it is. And the local economy on our island will continue to suffer as the tourists stay away. It would be nice if the MLAs were forced to use the ferries to get to/from Victoria for work instead of flying in floatplanes. That might change their tune! Neither party impresses me in terms of their platform, leader or even local candidate. I am fearful of the NDP. Their basic platform is "we are not the Liberals", so they can make a slew of promises without any regard as to how to pay for them, except through more taxes on "corporations" and "high income earners", who will flee the province. I also fear the unions will basically be calling the shots behind the scenes, so get ready for higher ferry fares, more expensive nurses and teachers but no improvement in services.
The Liberals are equally unpalatable. All this talk about paying down the debt, but omitting the fact that they ran it up! They also seem to forget that you need to make investments in transportation and education in order to improve the economy down the road. I dislike Christy Clark, but I fear that if she loses, the party will purge her immediately and pick a candidate w hois even more right wing (hello, Kevin Falcon!)
Which leads me to vote based on the local candidates – which isn't much better. The local Liberal candidate is making all kinds of promises about increasing the ferry subsidy to score local votes, when the party has no intention of doing that. Hence, he seems untrustworthy at worst or clueless at best.
The NDP candidate has been active on Salt Spring for a long time, but it's very difficult to get a sense of what he really thinks since he just seems to be able to quote party messaging.
Regards the Greens and the Conservatives ... forget it. They have no hope of ever forming a government so they can make all kinds of promises without any real basis in reality. And most of their platform is lacking in reality. We aren't going to be able to live on selling bamboo bicycles.
So in the end, I am likely to vote NDP for the following reason: I would like to send a message to Stephen Harper that he shouldn't take the West for granted.
– David Rumsey, Salt Spring Island
Who am I going to vote for? It all comes down to who do I think will best represent the riding of Vancouver-Quilchena. As I've said before, this riding has been solidly B.C. Liberal for a long time. It has always been a 'safe' seat for them. For me, the choice of who to vote for is pretty straightforward.
Do I want to vote for Andrew Wilkinson – former B.C. Liberal president, deputy minister, 'establishment candidate'? No.
Do I want to vote for the Conservative candidate? No. Do I want to vote for the Green Party candidate? Wait – has ANYONE seen the Green party candidate? No.
That leaves me with the NDP candidate Nicholas Scapillatti. I'm going to vote for him. To put this in perspective, the last time I voted for the NDP was in 1991 in North Vancouver-Lonsdale. Why am I voting for Nicholas? He's actively involved in salmonid enhancement programs. He's involved in sustainability development. He's a small businessman, as opposed to a corporate type. He co-authored an environmental dissertation with Dr. David Suzuki. He shares my concern for long-term environmental issues, which I personally feel outweigh economic development.
I'll also say this. I haven't forgotten how many children have died in foster care under the Ministry of Children and Families during the 12 years of B.C. Liberal government policy. Nobody wants to talk about dead children and the cutbacks to social policies that contributed to the Ministry letting this happen.
And everyone has forgotten the stellar work done by Children's Commissioner Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and how the B.C. Liberals tried to silence her report on their failures. But she screamed bloody murder and publicly shamed Gordon Campbell and minister Mary Polak.
And you want the same B.C. Liberals back running the show after 12 years?
– Anthony Gurr, Vancouver
At the outset, my concern was governance. That concern remains. I believe the worst governments we have had were the most ideologically driven. For me, the worst government in my lifetime was Gordon Campbell's first term. From the illogical and regressive tax cuts to the suicide-causing review of disability benefits to the racist referendum on First Nation treaties, that government thoughtlessly caused unnecessary suffering on the least able of us to cope.
I have no evidence that either Christy Clark or Adrian Dix are so ideologically driven they will act outside of a reasonable range of choices. I am concerned about the people around them. I am worried about their ability to control their radical fringes.
News of the 801 club may be the decider for me. I cannot know if an overthrow is in the works but I cannot ignore the possibility either. My worry is that the planned coup against Clark will only attract hard-right, socially conservative activists who will perpetuate their narrow, Fraser-Institute values on government actions; I fear a replay of the first Gordon Campbell government. That is something worth avoiding and will drive my choice at the ballot box.
– Chris Siver, Victoria
I voted on Wednesday as I'm going to be travelling this week, so my vote's already cast. I can't say I'm happy about my decision. I feel what I learned mostly from this campaign is how little talent and how few ideas there are among provincial politicians.
That said, how did I reach my decision? Well, the Liberals have done nothing to make me trust them. In fact, the local candidate here turns me off further with every flyer she sends me every couple of days. Continually touting the daycare she built for her fellow MDs at B.C. Children's as evidence of progress on childcare is a complete fairy tale, for example, and transparently so to any parent who isn't affiliated with Women's & Children's. We have concrete evidence that the Liberals and Christy Clark fundamentally do not understand how to build a strong, lasting business sector in the province (hint: it doesn't involve natural resources). And I know that the Liberals are actively hobbling university education and are trying to stick it to the faculties at our premier institutions, which is a problem for my household's pocketbook. So, I really can't vote Liberal.
Dix did nothing to make me understand why I should vote NDP. I still have no idea what they would actually do in office, after watching the debate and reading the platform. Coming out against Kinder Morgan was the only real stand he took, and fortunately it was one I agreed with. Our local candidate is a big union guy, which I don't like, either.
The Greens are closest to my beliefs, I guess, but (to be frank) they haven't the chance of a snowball in hell. And I'd never vote Conservative.
If I lived a half a block away, I'd have thrown my vote away for the Greens, because it wouldn't have mattered. But since my riding is actually contested, I felt I couldn't do so. So I went with the lesser of two evils. I have no idea what the NDP will do, but I think I have a fair idea what the Liberals would do, and it would continue to be wrong. And I'm not sure Adrian Dix would be strong enough to do anything bold, except perhaps move us back to the left of the B.C. Liberals' fairly far-right policies. Lesser of two evils, I guess.
– Lisa Fisher, Vancouver
I reached my decision on how to vote by reading what other people are thinking and realizing that I'm not alone in my thinking.
I think differently about the political process. I really believe now that the province as well as the country needs a major shakeup of how politicians think and act. They need to start acting like responsible adults and put an end to all the crap that goes on.
We elect them to represent us, we pay their wages and yet they continue to treat the general public like we are stupid. The power, the money, the perks they get need to be overhauled and they need to be brought back to reality. They need a public watchdog that has the power to oust them in order to keep them under control. At present they are out of control and they sure act like it.
– Larry Law, Powell River
When this request for participants first came out, it was at a time of transition for me. I'd lost a position with a firm, and was not sure where the next few months would take me. I had some vague ideas of the direction I wanted to head.
Likewise, I started the election with vague ideas of what the parties that represent us would promote, or where their platforms would take us.
In the interim, I have found a position, and, as a position with political sensitivities, I cannot endorse a candidate. That is fair ... because I haven't chosen one yet (though I've narrowed it down to two). I moved cities during the election period, which added a complication, since I promised that I would vote based on the candidates, and not solely on the parties. So I learned new candidates in Victoria; not knowing where I was going to live meant postponing to the point that I missed the all-candidates' debates.
I can empathize that many of you have found this an uninspiring campaign. I perhaps am less jaded, being new to B.C.. But I felt my enthusiasm for the parties that I would naturally lean towards wane when I heard what they were proposing. But I feel that politics is like anything – you choose the party or candidate you dance with because, about 70-75 per cent of the time, they bring what you're looking for. The other 25-30 per cent of the time, you're left kind of wanting. And I think that the parties that I would most likely support have me mostly on board, and I can settle with that. I guess all parts of life are about compromises.
I have cleared it with my management at my workplace to discuss policies without discussing endorsements (though it won't take long for you to know who I've narrowed my vote down to…). Friday's announcement that we have passed the 400 parts per million level for CO2 in the atmosphere brought into focus that the forces behind climate change continue to grow unabated. I want to live in a place that has decided to do its best to turn the emissions curve downwards, and create an economy that instead focuses on developing low-carbon technologies. I do not want to live in a province that wants to keep us hinged to fossil fuels, and tries to pass them off as the only way to develop our economy. We simply cannot continue to build new carbon-intensive infrastructure, when the best of the science tells us that we have to keep at least 2/3 of the carbon on the books in the ground over the next 40 years.
Fossil fuels are one tool in a large toolbox, where innovation in high tech, information technology, health care, clean energy, arts and entertainment, education, tourism, agriculture, etc., can drive the economy. I will vote for a party that I feel decides to push forward the whole toolbox, not bank everything on one tool that may provide some short-term payback but with large long-term costs borne here and elsewhere.
– Adrian Mohareb, Victoria
Since the beginning of the campaign I have been looking to see support of the B.C. film industry, and so far only one party has put it on their platform, so my options are limited. This is discouraging, as despite the many issues I would like to take into consideration, I will not vote for a party that does not show leadership in this area.
Friday's announcement that we have passed the 400 parts per million level for CO2 in the atmosphere was a harsh reality check and definitely put environmental concerns at the forefront of my thoughts, rather than idling in back.
– Jayne Craig, North Vancouver