We’re going to do a news progression this week, folks, from events international to national to provincial to local.
Overseas, in the closely watched Dutch election … Wait. There’s a phrase that almost certainly has never been used before — except in Holland. Nevertheless, it was a phrase used often this week. In any event, in the closely watched Dutch election, the far-right candidate Geert Wilders was soundly trounced by the incumbent, PM Mark Rutte, who represents a much more centrist Party. This is seen as an important victory as far right candidates are popping up all over Europe. France and German also head to the polls this year. There was fear that a victory by Geert Wilders would set off a bit of a chain reaction.
But there’s one question I have to ask. What’s with the hair, Geert? Is this some kind of secret far-right code? Like a secret handshake except it’s a head shake? I mean you’ve got Boris Johnson and his hair in Britain, you know who and his hair in the United States and now Veert and his hair in the Netherlands. It’s a strange brotherhood of weird hair.
Nationally, the Conservative candidates continue to duke it out. But there’s another leadership race going on that is attracting very little attention at the moment, and that’s the race to lead the federal NDP. Rather than the hordes vying for leadership of the Conservative Party, this race involved four hopefuls — a nice tidy number.
The candidates are Niki Ashton, the NDP MP for Churchill-Keewatinook Aski in Manitoba; Charlie Angus, the NDP MP for Timmins-James Bay; Guy Caron, the NDP MP for Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques; and Peter Julian, NDP MP for Burnaby-New Westminster.
Now these four candidates are just getting started. The NDP leadership won’t be decided until next October, but they already had their first debate this week, described by most as a fairly congenial affair. It certainly didn’t point out a lot of differences among them, or at least none they were willing to fight over.
However, it is interesting to me that two of the hopefuls, Ashton and Angus, are from huge, northern, very rural ridings. Ashton’s riding is over 494,000 square kilometres in area; Angus’s is 251,000. When either of these two MPs bid their partners farewell as they embark on a tour of the riding, it is likely the partners don’t expect to see them back at dinner time. It would certainly bring a different perspective to national leadership, should either of them win — a needed perspective.
It’s also election season in B.C. of course, and amid whisperings and accusations and investigations of campaign financing, the electorate still appears quite undecided about who they will hand the reins to come May.
Polling shows the NDP gaining, but then it also shows the BC Liberals gaining. The latest numbers show the NDP with 32 per cent support, the BC Liberals gaining to 27 per cent support, the Greens with a solid 10 per cent and the Conservatives at 8. That leaves 23 per cent of eligible voters still undecided, or at least not ready to commit.
There’s still plenty of time for a Party to catch up, or extend to an unbeatable lead. But there’s also still time for something big to really sway voters. An April surprise perhaps?
And one other event that made people in this area sit up and take notice; the vote in Nanaimo over a new arena/events centre. Spending up to $80 million on the new facility was rejected by almost 80 per cent of those who voted, an emphatic no. Rumours and speculation were certainly flying that a yes to the arena in Nanaimo also meant that Cranbrook would soon be waving goodbye to the Kootenay Ice, who would hop a ferry for Vancouver Island. Now that Nanaimo has said no, is it possible that the Ice may now settle in permanently?
And on a final hockey note, go Dynamiters go!
Carolyn Grant is Editor
of the Kimberley Bulletin