Wrestling the Interior away from the Conservatives

Can the Prince George-area ridings be wrestled away from the Conservatives?

Bill Phillips

Prince George Free Press

Can the Prince George-area ridings be wrestled away from the Conservatives?

That’s the real issue here as both the Cariboo-Prince George and Prince George-Peace River are the Conservatives’ to lose.  However, if there ever was a time to pull an upset in these two Conservative strongholds, this could be it.

With Jay Hill stepping down as MP in Prince George-Peace River it makes the race in that riding very interesting. I wouldn’t say his retiring puts the riding up for grabs, but it was a lock for the Conservatives as long as Hill was there. On his way out the door, Hill dropped a couple of lock-picks.

It all depends on what the opposition can put forward. For the NDP, Lois Boone is as good a candidate as any. She’s well known. She is no stranger to politics, having served as cabinet minister in the provincial NDP government. She knows how to campaign and she knows how to politic.

Conservative candidate Bob Zimmer is also no stranger to politics, having been involved in the Reform/Alliance/Conservative parties since their inceptions. However, this is the first time he’s been on the public side of the campaign … as a candidate. In that regard, he is a rookie. In Boone, he’ll be going up against a veteran.

Boone, who’s been itching for a byelection since last fall, does have the jump on him campaign-wise as she’s been touring the riding for months now.

However, it does depend on the wild card … Liberal Ben Levine. The Liberals, in these two ridings at least, have always been Johnny-come-latelies. Even though everyone in the country knew an election was coming, Levine was only named as a candidate on Sunday.

Levine is also a political newcomer.

As with many ridings, if Boone and Levine campaign well they will steal votes from each other and Zimmer will win in a walk. Hilary Crowley is carrying the Green Party banner again and votes she gets will also be at the expense of the Liberals and NDP.

Which brings us to Cariboo-Prince George. Some felt Dick Harris was prime to be knocked off last time. It’s a couple of years later and he hasn’t done much to win more votes (but he got plenty last time), nor has he stumbled. It will be more of the same if Harris is re-elected.

Is it possible to unseat him?

It could be if either the NDP or Liberals put a good candidate up against him. They haven’t. Five days into a very, very short election campaign and neither the Liberals nor the NDP have yet to get a candidate in place. Once again, everyone knew an election was coming, they should have been getting candidates in place.

The Greens have put forward Heidi Redl, who is also a political newcomer and give Harris credit … he knows how to compaign.

It will depend on who comes out of the woodwork to challenge Harris as to whether the riding is ‘in play.’

The probability of Harris being re-elected is already high and with every passing day it gets even higher.

Bill Phillips is the editor of the Prince George Free Press and the regional editor for Black Press North.