At least one political expert is noting that if the NDP wants to form government, they must win the swing riding of Fraser-Nicola, expected to be one of the tightest races in the province.
In 2013, first-time candidate Jackie Tegart (Liberal) beat incumbent, and four-time MLA, Harry Lali (NDP) by 618 votes; one of the narrowest margins of victory in the province.
And in an interview with The Journal in March 2017 Keith Baldrey, the veteran legislative bureau chief for Global BC News, said that Fraser-Nicola was on his list as one of the key swing ridings to keep an eye on, as it was a riding he felt would go down to the wire. He identified it as one of the 10 ridings he will be paying particular attention on election night.
“I think it’s a riding in play for both parties. It also might be a riding that summarizes the campaign themes of jobs, resources, and industry [for the Liberals] versus more government services and the fight against climate change [for the NDP]. It all might play out in Fraser-Nicola.”
Four candidates are vying for votes in Fraser-Nicola, which once again sees Tegart pitted against Harry Lali, who defeated Chief Aaron Sam in March to win the NDP nomination. The nomination process was not without controversy, when provincial NDP leader John Horgan said publicly, in January 2017, that Lali was not the preferred NDP candidate in the riding, and had been asked to step aside in favour of Sam.
Baldrey said the situation was “very unusual. I can’t remember a leader asking someone of Harry Lali’s stature to stand down.”
The other two candidates in the riding are Arthur Green (Green Party) and Michael Henshall (Social Credit). Green previously ran at the federal level, while Henshall is making his political debut.
The candidates met at several forums in communities throughout the riding in late April, and each one answered a series of questions posed by The Journal and The Hope Standard. The final question was “What makes you the best candidate for Fraser-Nicola?”
Arthur Green: “What makes me the best candidate is that I’m a proven problem-solver. I have an excellent work ethic, and after working with some of the largest mass media corporations in North America I know how to get things done. Also, I’ve belonged to many political parties, and have that experience under my belt.”
Michael Henshall: “Much work and change is needed in provincial government. I am committed to hear and learn the needs of citizens in Fraser-Nicola. I will stand and be outspoken on your behalf as someone skilled in business negotiations, to ensure prosperity and well-being for all area residents!”
Harry Lali: “I possess 30+ years’ experience in public service, and a proven track record of delivering for Fraser-Nicola, from building schools and pools to saving mills and the jobs they provide so our small businesses have customers and our children have parents who can give them decent living standards. It can happen again, but not if we cave into everything Christy Clark’s corporate donors want. The Liberals have sold out to big money and are bought and paid for. It’s time to send them packing.”
Jackie Tegart: “I am the best candidate for Fraser-Nicola because I care about people, life in rural communities, and Fraser-Nicola. This is not a job to me, but the best way that I can provide service to the people and communities I care about. I am committed to listen, understand, and look at the best way we can help. I believe in working together, building strong relationships, and achieving results for individuals, for communities, and for our province.”