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B.C. could play important role in 2019 election, political scientist says
Typically, federal elections have already been decided by the time votes are tallied in British Columbia – but there are signs things could be different this year.
With more than a month to go until Canadians cast their ballots, most pollsters say the race is too close to call. But one thing seems clear: there are several party leaders with a lot on the line out west.
In the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau's Liberals won more B.C. seats than ever before, securing 17 of the province's 42 ridings. It's unclear how many of those the party will be able to hold onto this round, however, given festering anger over the government's approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
"The feeling now is they've got nowhere to go but down," said Michael Prince, a political scientist from the University of Victoria.
Prince expects there are at least a few Liberal seats at risk on the mainland as a result of the pipeline decision, and that could help determine who forms the next government.
"Whether Mr. Trudeau holds onto power, whether it's a minority or not – B.C. will figure into that," he said.
The SNC-Lavalin scandal also hit close to home in Vancouver, the home of Jody Wilson-Raybould's riding. Prince said it's no surprise that Trudeau decided to fly out to the city Wednesday shortly after the writ dropped on the Oct. 21 election.
"Very much B.C. is on his mind," Prince said. "This is where he's been faced with protesters over the last few years whenever he's come, and he's always said that B.C.'s like a second home to him."
Another major story out of B.C. is the race for third place. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who represents Burnaby South, has seen a drop in popularity this year as Elizabeth May and the Greens have seemingly picked up steam.
Some experts believe the Greens' best chance to claim more seats is on Vancouver Island – at the NDP's expense.
But Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives could also win some ridings on the island, where voters have elected Conservative MPs in the past.
"B.C. has got a lot that it will contribute on election night to what Parliament will look like, and the fate and fortune of at least two, if not three leaders," said Prince.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan