This time next year, British Columbians will be heading to the polls for the next provincial election.
A recent poll shows the NDP holds a commanding lead in public popularity, but all leaders were expressing optimism at their chances this week.
On Thursday, an Angus Reid poll showed 43 per cent of voters intend to vote for the NDP.
The race was extremely tight for second place, with BC United seeing 22 per cent and the Conservative Party seeing 21 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Greens are sitting at 12 per cent.
On Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver, the NDP lead is even wider, more than doubling both of their closest opposition parties.
Yet, what’s interesting, is that the same poll says most people are furious with how the NDP is handling the biggest issues of the day.
Four in five people say the government is failing on housing and cost of living. But at the same time, many of those people say they’re most likely to vote for the New Democrats.
Previously, most of the NDP’s appeal was attributed to the popularity of John Horgan, but it appears the momentum has continued under David Eby, meaning perhaps it’s now more about voters not seeing any alternative party they like, despite their frustrations.
What are the party leaders saying?
Eby told CHEK News the NDP are making plans for the long term.
“In terms of being able to get traction on these big issues people care about, if you are talking about training a new nurse, building a new home – you are talking about building transit or building a new ferry boat or whatever the thing is – these are multi-year projects and it just doesn’t feel like enough time,” he said.
“So that’s what I’ll be asking for from British Columbians, what my colleagues will be asking for, look at these things,” he said. “This is where we’re going, we need more time to really get the traction going to see the things on a day to day basis, but you can see these are real things and they are making a difference.”
The party in the worst position right now is BC United, which has struggled since changing its name from BC Liberals and has seen two defections to the newly-refreshed BC Conservative party.
Still, Falcon says BC United better represents British Columbians than the Conservatives.
“I guarantee you this, John Rustad and Bruce Banman and their gang of candidates, they are going to have, are going to say, some very interesting, crazy stuff, and people are going to look at them,” he said.
“Frankly, that’s not representative of the British Columbia I want, they are not ready for prime time, and people are going to say if there’s going to be an alternative government they want to make sure those are responsible adults who know how to go in and govern on day one. That’s what we will be presenting to the public.”
Rustad says the Conservatives are ready to step up to the plate.
“We’ve got a lot of work yet to do, we’re reaching out to people, we’re really just trying to stand for what’s right,” he said. “We’re the only party just trying to connect with the average, everyday person that cares about their quality of life, and I think that’s resonating with people across the province.”
Meanwhile, the Greens are gearing up for the election next year.
“We’re preparing for that next election, bringing forward extraordinary candidates, change-makers in their community, people who have already shown they can make things happen,” said Furstenau.
“And we’re excited to present to British Columbians an option of logical, evidence-based, rational solution-making in the B.C. legislature,” she said.
All that said, a year is a long time in B.C. politics.
Around this time last year, the province was still talking about David Eby winning the B.C. NDP leadership race to replace John Horgan.
In the year to come, even more could change.