Opinion: Yes, an election would be unnecessary. Let’s try to win it, anyway

Politicians of all stripes may be looking for support in the Tri-Cities

We sit here today, waiting for the rain to fall and – with less enthusiasm – for the writ to drop.

Like supersized fries or that miniature clothes-hanger that comes with socks, a federal election is unneeded and unwelcome. So we’re probably getting one.

Earlier this week, the federal government announced a $48-million loan to “help construct” that rental building at 3131 St. Johns St. (This is the same rental building that Port Moody council approved nearly four years ago and, at least from the street, looks pretty much constructed.)

The week before that, Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon was in Coquitlam to announce the feds were chipping in $105,000 for 21 EV charging stations that, with one exception, were already up and humming.

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And the week before that, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Coquitlam to announce a deal introducing an average $10-a-day daycare option before 2027.

As government press releases pile up, clicking your inbox feels like opening the door during a party and seeing someone you didn’t invite standing on your doorstep with a six-pack and an expectant look.

But while we steel ourselves for virtual town halls, mail-in voting, and yet another election playing out amid a crisis, we wonder just why the Tri-Cities is getting so much attention from Ottawa. 

Perhaps it’s because we’re conflicted that we might get to be kingmakers.

In 2019, Conservative MP Nelly Shin edged the NDP candidate in Port Moody-Coquitlam by 153 votes. For comparison, Shin’s margin of victory was half the size of the riding’s number of rejected ballots. There were also nearly 28,000 eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot.

Over in Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Liberal MP Ron McKinnon had a comparatively comfortable margin of victory over his Conservative challenger: 0.7 percent, or 390 votes. More than 33,000 eligible voters didn’t cast a ballot.

Given that our region is very Liberal, quite Conservative, supportive of the NDP and packed with non-voters, it’s entirely possible the difference between a minority and majority government – or even a change of occupancy at Sussex Drive – will be decided in our backyard.

In short, we have a chance to say something. But even more than that, we have a chance to say something and be listened to.

Do we want subsidized housing? Student loan forgiveness? A great big investment in public transportation? Do we want to point through the smoke to that swath of B.C. roughly the size of Trinidad and Tobago that’s been scorched by summer wildfires and demand immediate action on climate change?

Whatever your political affiliation, whatever you want, now is the time to ask for it. 

Whether the writ drops tomorrow or in two years, a lot of folks with pennies and promises are going to stop by ask for your vote. Whoever you choose to support, make them earn it.

Yes, using an election to advance a cause is cynical and opportunistic. But, without cynicism and opportunism, we wouldn’t be having an election in the first place.

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