Last week, Ipsos-Reid Corp. released a poll showing neither the provincial Liberals nor the New Democrats have "succeeded in connceting with voters" during the first week on the campaign. But perhaps even more troubling is the fact they haven't succeeded in connecting with voters over the past four years either.
During the lead up to the 2005 election, Gordon Campbell spoke of leading the province into a golden decade. And while he has taken steps to reconcile with the province's First Nations and confront the challenges of climate change, neither policies seems to have inspired anyone to follow him. Perhaps it's because it feels like they were developed on the back of a napkin, cribbing from someone else's notes? Or perhaps it's because Mr. Campbell has made a mockery of his 2001 promise to run the most open and accountable government in Canada, preferring to preach to the converted and excommunicate everyone else.
Still, Carole James's self-described practical approach to politics has been even less successful. For a progressive party, the New Democrats have become incredibly conservative. Qualifiers cover the party's platform like eggshells. In bold letters - for example - the platform proclaims a James government would say "no" to coalbed methane development. But the fine print suggests it would say yes if such projects undergo "full community consultation and proper environmental assessment." And it is this conservative approach - coupled with rhetoric which sounds like it was ripped from a ten year old government briefing note - that has broken the New Democrats' election chances.
Which means most British Columbians won't be happy to head to the polls 14 days from now. And we can't help but wonder if that unhappiness with our party system will mean a protest vote to change our electoral system. Or perhaps most British Columbians just won't vote at all?