Why bet against a spring election? Surrey. - The Orca
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Why bet against a spring election? Surrey.

Jordan Bateman Large
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NDP strategists are recalculating as opinion shifts in BC's fastest-growing major centre

Chatter over a spring 2019 provincial election has grown in recent weeks, but I don’t see it.

The NDP government will not risk their hold on the Premier’s Office unless they have a strong sense that they can improve their lot and win a majority government. To do that, they need to hold all the swing ridings they have now – and add a handful more.

The first part of that equation – holding their swing ridings – is looking shakier by the day, especially in battleground Surrey.

The NDP must hold on to swings like Surrey-Panorama, Surrey-Guildford, Surrey-Fleetwood and Delta North, and find a way to claw a Surrey South or Surrey-Cloverdale away from the BC Liberals. It’s a tough calculation.

Dropping the Port Mann tolls was a good start, but that will be at least a couple of years in the rearview mirror by the next election – an eternity for a voter. And while a new Pattullo Bridge is fine, the NDP are bloating its construction costs to pay back its building trades union cronies, rather than using that money as a down payment on a new Massey Bridge.

Meanwhile, Surrey still has an overcrowded hospital and dozens of portable classrooms – with little sign the NDP can fix either.

A few different issues are also nibbling away at Surrey’s pivotal, and influential, South Asian community. As I noted after the municipal election, the NDP strongly supported Tom Gill and Surrey First, but the South Asian support for Gill never materialized.

Things have only gotten worse for the NDP. The Indo-Canadian voting bloc is not monolithic; different factions have different views. On ride sharing, it’s become easy, conventional commentary to say that bringing in Uber would crush a political party with Indo-Canadian voters, who are perceived to have a lot invested in the current taxi industry.

But there’s more support for ride-sharing among south Asian voters than people might think. Elderly Indo-Canadians, especially, want more transportation options, including Uber. TransLink has gone on a bus driver hiring spree, adding dozens of Indo-Canadian drivers; there is a growing body of research showing Uber actually encourages more transit by filling in gaps and offering “last-mile” service from a bus stop to a home.

South Asian farmers have been galvanized by the NDP government’s new restrictions on home sizes within the Agricultural Land Reserve. While NDP politicians and mainstream media call them “mega-mansions,” many Indo-Canadian farmers call them home.

Many South Asian families value their multi-generational living quarters; grandparents, parents, and children all living together under one roof. Parents are expected to support their children until the day they get married; the eldest son is expected to care for his parents until they pass away.

This makes large homes important; limiting them is an attack on their way of life.

On top of lack of progress on Massey, schools, healthcare, and ridesharing and the new home restrictions, any delay by the NDP in funding SkyTrain or helping the city create its own police force will be further the divide between Surrey and its NDP MLAs.

The freeway to a majority government for John Horgan rolls through Surrey. And right now, that road is full of potholes.

 

Jordan Bateman has a long history of public policy work, championing small business and fiscal responsibility. Currently the Director of Communications for the Independent Contractors and Business Association (ICBA), Jordan also served six years as the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and was a two-term Langley Township Councillor

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