John Horgan and Andrew Weaver

AS the Legislative Assembly prepares for a vote that may bring down the current provincial government in British Columbia, more than half of residents believe it is time to allow the BC New Democratic Party (NDP) and the BC Green Party to take over, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, more than half of British Columbians (55%) would prefer to give the BC NDP and the BC Greens a chance to form a government. One-in-four (25%) would allow the BC Liberal government that was sworn in earlier this month to continue, while 15% would dissolve the Legislative Assembly and hold a new provincial election.

On June 22, the Government of British Columbia—formed by the BC Liberals—presented the Speech from the Throne. Two-in-five British Columbians (42%) claim to have followed the speech and related media coverage “very closely” or “somewhat closely”.

The document incorporated specific policy proposals that were included in the platforms of opposition parties. At least three-in-four residents voice support for banning union and corporate political donations (80%), naming a Minister of State for Mental Health, Addictions and Recovery (76%) and implementing new regulations on the activities of lobbyists (75%).

More than half of British Columbians are in favour of investing $1 billion in new child care spaces (63%) and holding a referendum on Electoral Reform (58%), while fewer support eliminating all tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges (46%) and carrying on with the construction of the Site C dam near Peace River (45%).

When asked about the commitment they expect from the BC Liberal government on each of these proposals, the numbers shift drastically. Most British Columbians think it is “very likely” or “somewhat likely” that the current government will carry on with Site C construction (72%) and name a Minister of State for Mental Health, Addictions and Recovery (58%).

Just about a third of residents think the current government will follow through on pledges to deal with lobbyists (33%) and bridge tolls (32%), while fewer think the promised actions on Electoral Reform (29%), child care (also 29%) and political donations (28%) will materialize.

“The only promises in the Speech from the Throne that British Columbians expect the current government to keep are the ones related to Site C and mental health,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “There is a high degree of skepticism from the public when asked if the BC Liberals will actually deal with political donations, child care and Electoral Reform.”

A third of British Columbians (32%, -6 since the final Insights West provincial election poll conducted in May) approve of the performance of Premier and BC Liberals leader Christy Clark, while 63% disapprove (+5). The rating has improved for the two other party leaders, with the NDP’s John Horgan at 49% (+7) and the Greens’ Andrew Weaver at 50% (+4).

In the event a new provincial election takes place soon, 65% of British Columbians say they would be “very happy” or “somewhat happy” if the BC Liberals replace Clark as leader of the party—including 53% of those who voted for the party last month.

The notion of the BC NDP and the BC Green Party agreeing to have only a “joint” candidate running in some constituencies would be welcome by 43% of British Columbians, including 67% of those who voted for the BC NDP. Fewer residents (38%) would be happy if the provincial New Democrats and the Greens merge into a single party.

If a new election were held tomorrow, 41% of decided voters would cast a ballot for the BC NDP candidate in their riding. The BC Liberals are second with 36%, followed by the BC Greens with 19%.

Support for the BC Liberals is strongest among voters aged 55 and over (46%), while the BC New Democrats continue to dominate among voters aged 18-to-34 (49%). The Greens have their best numbers in Vancouver Island (30%, tied with the BC Liberals but six points behind the BC NDP).