Is B.C. ready for a third political party?
As the BC Liberals crumble under the weight of the harmonized sales tax, political observers say the time might be right for a new party to enter the political fray.
Political scientist Kennedy Stewart says that new political alternatives might spring up while the Liberals cope with a recall campaign and trying to replace Premier Gordon Campbell.
"I think there's a history in this province of fracturing, especially in the centre and the centre-right-side spectrum, and there is a good chance of perhaps a third party arising out of the mess that is politics in B.C.," Stewart told CTV News.
The Fight HST campaign announced its strategy Monday for petitioning to recall Liberal MLAs, and Stewart believes that could prompt some party members to jump ship.
"If some MLAs get spooked about recall, they might decide, ‘I'll cross the floor,'" he said.
He added that it will be interesting to see where former energy minister Blair Lekstrom turns next. Lekstrom resigned in June in response to complaints about the HST.
"Could we have any more fun than we're having right now?" he said.
The nascent BC First party could be an option for MLAs searching for a new home, Stewart said. The new party was formed this year in the wake of anger about the implementation of the HST.
In September, Fight HST organizer Chris Delaney resigned as deputy leader of the B.C. Conservatives to take on the job of spokesman for BC First.
Since then, the party has released energy and tax policy statements, and made its position known on issues ranging from the BC Rail trial to highway tolls.
Stewart said that the party's recently widened horizons could signal larger ambitions.
"How parties start up is they're small basement or backyard operations," Stewart said.
"If they're successful, they need to have some sort of convention, select a leader, and then put candidates in ridings."
Delaney said Monday that the future of BC First depends on the Liberals.
"Whether it will get out of the gate and get on its feet largely depends on what the government does here with the HST," he said.
"They've sort of made every move possible to create a third party.... [But] if the government makes a few moves, I think the desire for a third party would go away."
Delaney said he is not ready to rule out a run at political office in B.C.
"I want to end this mess that's been created by a one-man show and have a participatory democracy, where people could have a say, where people could hold the government to account," he said.
"If there was a way to achieve that, I would run for office to do something like that."