In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we’ll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, one of nine ridings in the Fraser Valley — and one that was among the NDP’s biggest disappointments four years ago.
1. It’s a cliché to say that every riding in a provincial election matters — but Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows really matters.
Consider that the Liberals won the riding by 620 votes four years ago, their seventh smallest margin of victory, and that the NDP currently holds 35 seats and would need to win at least eight new seats for a majority government.
This used to be the only riding in the Fraser Valley the NDP held, winning in four of five elections from 1991 to 2013, until the Liberals took it from them in the last election.
Consider that in the first half of the campaign, Liberal Leader Christy Clark and NDP Leader John Horgan visited Maple Ridge multiple times.
And finally, consider that both parties made promises in the weekend before the election campaign began to reduce or eliminate tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge, which enters (or exits, depending on your perspective) the riding.
Little wonder then that the man who currently holds the riding, B.C. Liberal MLA Doug Bing, admits to the importance of his constituency.
“There definitely is extra pressure,” Bing said.
“We certainly don’t want to leave anything on the table, and wake up on May 10 and wish we worked harder. We’re not going to be given a victory.”
2. There’s a few reasons Bing was elected in the first place, however.
One is the general realignment that happened in the 2013 election — while the NDP picked up four seats in Vancouver, Burnaby and Greater Victoria, it lost three seats to the Liberals in the middle-class, suburban seats of Delta North, Surrey-Fleetwood, Port Moody-Coquitlam and here in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows.
But the other is that Bing fits the profile of a person who has success in elections: he’s lived in the region for 37 years, was a Pitt Meadows councillor for eight years prior to running for provincial office, and is the type of non-combative, constituency-focused politician that fits the profile of upper Fraser Valley MLAs.
“I tell them that as MLA I’ve tried to make things better for them, their community and province. I tell them I’m there to stand up for them in Victoria, even when I disagree with the government, and they respect that,” said Bing.
3. Still, his NDP competition will be no pushover.
Lisa Beare, a trustee on the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board who won the most votes in the 2014 election, was nominated for the NDP last year, and has plenty of time to knock on doors and hone her pitch to voters.
“I wanted to fix public education before I had children in the system,” Beare said, referring to her 21-month-old toddler.
“I realized how difficult life has been for families. It’s the stories I…