Opinion

It’s about Chilliwack-Hope

Voters in the riding of Chilliwack-Hope head to the polls today.

And if you believe the observations and prognostications of the pundits (self-styled and otherwise), the ballots they cast carry with them the fate of the province.

Few byelections have drawn as much scrutiny as this one. Even the byelection in Port Moody – where the NDP seem assured a win – lacks the drama and has failed to draw this much analysis.

Depending on your perspective, today’s vote will either:

• Prove a seminal moment in the resurgence of the NDP;

• Be the catalyst for the birth of the BC Conservatives;

• Presage the eventual extinction of the BC Liberal party.

• Mark the triumph of British Columbia’s “free enterprise coalition.”

That the stakes are high in this race, few people can deny. The money spent, the effort invested, and the attention drawn has been remarkable.

(Does anyone remember so many party leaders in Chilliwack over such a short time?)

But with the campaigning now over, Chilliwack-Hope voters have to remember just two things:

First, this is not a referendum on who should govern the province. Voters here are electing the person they feel is best qualified to represent them in Victoria – the person whose ideas and ideals most closely match their own.

Folks elsewhere in the province may want them to “send a message” to any of the competing parties. But this election is about Chilliwack-Hope – about securing a strong voice to speak on the riding’s behalf in the legislature.

The second key to remember is to vote. Byelections traditionally have a low voter turnout. True, no government will fall on the result, but the significance of an election is not only in its outcome. When people continue to die for the right to have what so many of us take for granted, failing to exercise that right is inexcusable.

Polling stations are open until 8 p.m. tonight. If you live in the Chilliwack-Hope riding, and you haven’t voted yet, do it now.

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