EDITORIAL: Strahl’s in for Chilliwack-Hope but no Liberal so far

Election fewer than 90 days away but perennial second-place party still has no candidate

Canada’s federal election isn’t even 90 days away but, as usual, in these vacation summer months, few people are paying attention.

Locally, Conservative MP Mark Strahl says he will run for re-election but so far he has no real opposition.

Are the Justin Trudeau Liberals up for a challenge in the Chilliwack-Hope electoral district? In the last election, Strahl won handily (as Strahls always do), but a closer look shows that it wasn’t as handily won as in the past. Strahl became the Chilliwack-Hope Member of Parliament with 21,445 votes or 42.3 per cent over Liberal candidate Louis De Jaeger who received 17,114 votes or 33.8 per. cent.

A solid win, but not the usual Conservative landslide in the eastern Fraser Valley.

Since then, however, Trudeau has alienated many even within his own party, including De Jaeger who left the Liberals. And neither the Liberals nor the NDP have yet chosen candidates for the riding.

The clock is ticking.

Strahl will not run unopposed as the Greens chose Arthur Green from Hope while the new People’s Party of Canada (PPC) chose high-school teacher Robert Bogunovic.

And at least one of those opponents could, theoretically, make the race interesting, only because many Conservative voters in Chilliwack-Hope are among the far right of the party, a party that was nearly split on choosing a leader in 2017. That’s when 38-year-old Andrew Scheer won the Conservative leadership with 50.95 per cent over 54-year old Quebec MP Maxime Bernier’s 49.05. per cent.

• READ MORE: Greens go with Green for Chilliwack-Hope in 2019

• READ MORE: OPINION: Electioneering via press release

• READ MORE: Candidate chosen for People’s Party of Canada in Chilliwack-Hope

Polls put Bernier’s populist People’s Party of Canada (PPC) in single digits, as low as one per cent, among decided voters. Despite Bernier’s support as a Conservative, that hasn’t rolled over to the PPC, at least yet.

Conservatives were split in choosing a leader in 2017. Are they still?

Time will tell how many local Conservatives will jump from the known quantity in Strahl to the precarious PPC and Bogunovic.

As for the Liberals, the only party who have represented a real opposition in recent elections, anyone?


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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