B.C. New Democrats are taking the fight to the B.C. Liberals this week, buying time for a 44-second TV ad in areas of the province where the Liberals have been strong.
The cheerful ad features NDP Leader Adrian Dix talking up his positive, attack-free approach to politics and promising "practical" change. The goal is to make tangible Mr. Dix's repeated pledge that no seat will be safe for the Liberals.
That means ads will run in Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, and Dawson Creek long before they reach the Lower Mainland, says Carole James, co-chair of the B.C. NDP's election-platform committee. "This is going to be a very competitive election and we're going to commit to making sure we're running in all of those ridings, including Liberal strongholds."
But the Liberals are ready. As the B.C. Liberal candidate for Kamloops-South Thompson, Todd Stone is not yet waving a white flag. "There's no amount of advertising that replaces hard work," he says. "I am not taking anything for granted. This election will be a close-fought battle as most B.C. elections are."
The NDP will target these battlegrounds: before the election is even called.
Ridings: Kamloops-South Thompson and Kamloops North-Thompson
Incumbents: None and Environment Minister Terry Lake.
Liberal margin of victory in 2009: 19 per cent and 2.9 per cent
Prospects: The NDP held Kamloops-North Thompson from 1991 to 1996 and the riding that became Kamloops-South Thompson from 1991 until 2001, when the Liberals surged to power. The NDP may be hoping their strong polling is the ticket for a return in both ridings.
Ridings: Kelowna Lake-Country and Kelowna-Mission and Westside-Kelowna
Incumbents: Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick, Forests Minister Steve Thomson and Citizens' Services Minister Ben Stewart.
Liberal margin of victory in 2009: 26, 28 and 25 per cent
Prospects: Victories here would be symbolic for the NDP as this area is the birthplace of the Social Credit movement in B.C., which long had a lock on government and was replaced by the B.C. Liberals as the centre-right alternative to the NDP.
Ridings: Prince George-Valemount and Prince George-Mackenzie.
Incumbents: Justice Minister Shirley Bond, Jobs Minister Pat Bell.
Liberal margin of victory in 2009: 14 per cent and 19 per cent
Prospects: Although the Liberals have held these ridings since 2001, there was a time when Prince George elected New Democrats, including former finance minister Paul Ramsey as well as Lois Boone. As elsewhere, the NDP may be hoping the polls signal these ridings are swinging back their way.
Riding: Peace River South
Liberal margin of victory: 36 per cent
Prospects: The NDP has yet to elect an MLA from this northeastern B.C. city. The stalwart Blair Lekstrom is standing down after first winning the riding in 2001. Mike Bernier, the mayor of Dawson Creek, has been nominated as the new B.C. Liberal candidate. The long-time Social Credit stronghold has also been held by a Social Credit-turned-Reform-turned-independent candidate.