Diane Janzen at Chilliwack City Council in 2011 before she resigned to run for the federal Liberals (left), and John Martin when he was a BC Conservative candidate at an all-candidates meeting beside Gwen O’Mahony of the NDP. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Diane Janzen at Chilliwack City Council in 2011 before she resigned to run for the federal Liberals (left), and John Martin when he was a BC Conservative candidate at an all-candidates meeting beside Gwen O’Mahony of the NDP. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

OPINION: Who exactly is the right ‘right’ in this election?

An explainer on some of the last decade of drama among BC Liberals and Conservatives in Chilliwack

Are you confused about provincial politics in the Chilliwack electoral district?

Don’t be. It’s simple.

You see, BC Liberal candidate John Martin used to be a BC Conservative, and is a fiscal conservative.

BC Conservative candidate Diane Janzen used to be a federal Liberal, and a BC Liberal, and is also a fiscal conservative.

The NDP candidate Dan Coulter is also the president of the party’s riding association and chair of the Chilliwack school board. The Green candidate Tim Cooper is an engineering physics professor at UFV.

There is also Andrew Coombes for the Libertarians, and Independent Josue Anderson.

Got it? OK, back to the first two, Martin and Janzen are where it gets interesting.

The most recent story is that Janzen spent much of the last year or so urging people to join the BC Liberals so she could challenge Martin for the nomination. As the election was called, the BC Liberals put the kibosh on that, and appointed Martin as the candidate. Janzen then jumped to the Conservatives.

• READ MORE: Diane Janzen won’t be running for election under BC Liberal banner

But let’s go back in time for some context that newcomers to Chilliwack may not know, and others may have forgotten.

It was nine years ago next month, on Nov. 24, 2011, when then Chilliwack-Hope BC Liberal MLA Barry Penner announced he would step down to take a job as a senior partner with a Vancouver law firm.

That triggered a byelection.

Then BC Conservative leader John Cummins said the party had a “very recognizable” name to run in the byelection. That name was University Fraser Valley criminology professor, and newspaper columnist, John Martin.

“We’re not in this to come second,” Cummins said. “We are in this to win. I think this is a small ‘c’ conservative neck of the woods, and I think that given that we really are the only small ‘c’ conservative party in British Columbia, our platform will certainly resonate with the folks here.”

In an interview with Martin in December 2011, he explained to me why he was running for the BC Conservatives: “The BC Liberals absolutely don’t deserve a fourth term to be re-elected,” he said. “I’m a small ‘c’ conservative and the Liberals don’t represent me anymore.”

That same Chilliwack Times story mentioned – you guessed it – Diane Janzen who had finished a distant third as a Liberal in the federal election just a few months prior with 10.8 per cent of the vote. Janzen was going to seek the nomination for the BC Liberals to replace Penner, but she changed her mind. She told me in 2011 that Chilliwack’s right-of-centre voters should be wary of Cummins and his party.

“A vote for the BC Conservatives is a vote for the NDP. Period,” Janzen said. “The right-of-centre vote has been firmly in the BC Liberal camp and it needs to stay there… . Whoever is chosen will have to make sure that person appeals to the right end of the spectrum.”

• READ MORE: No byelection to replace Janzen, says council – 2011

• READ MORE: John Martin seeking BC Conservative nomination in Chilliwack-Hope byelection – 2011

Are you still with me?

Cummins was right about one thing in that April 19, 2012 byelection in Chilliwack-Hope: His party didn’t finish second. Martin finished third behind BC Liberal Laurie Throness who was second, with both of those small ‘c’ conservatives losing the riding to the NDP’s Gwen O’Mahony.

Of course, NDP power in the riding was short-lived as Throness handily won back the seat in the general election a year later, but it brought to the forefront the controversial topic of vote-splitting. Greens are often criticized by New Democrats for supposedly splitting the vote on the left, and clearly in the 2012 byelection that’s what happened on the right.

Janzen’s new motto she’s been using on social media: “Don’t split the right, vote right.”

Which begs the question: Who is the right right?

They say that leopards can’t change their spots, but history shows us that politicians can always change their stripes.

Will the right split the vote again in 2020? Maybe Do the NDP and Greens similarly create a vote-splitting dilemma for left-of-centre voters? Likely.

I wouldn’t make any predictions in an election in 2020, a year when just about anything could happen.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sam Darkoh in his music video ‘Ruby Fever’ which was shot in Yarrow. (Sterling Gold Production)
VIDEO: Yarrow, Chilliwack backdrop for professionally shot music video of Aldergrove rapper

Lots of hospitality, kind people while filming Ruby Fever, says hip-hop artist Sam Darkoh

Brian VanGarderen is one of four candidates running in the Chilliwack School Board byelection on Feb. 13, 2021. (Submitted photo)
VIDEO: Chilliwack byelection candidate would like to see district-wide connections

Brian Vangarderen hopes Chilliwack school board will focus on policy making and positive connections

Chilliwack is expected to be among the province’s hottest real estate markets in 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)
Chilliwack housing market projected to be among B.C.’s hottest in 2021

B.C. Real Estate Association projects Chilliwack and District to grow by 17.1 per cent

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon. (Submitted)
Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon funding equity and social change scholarships

One of the scholarships is open to any graduating student in the Chilliwack-Kent electoral district

Eva Pucci Couture in this file shot from May 29, 2019, when she came to Chilliwack asking for the public’s help in locating her missing son, Kristofer Shawn Couture. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Missing man’s mom still hopeful, 2 years after his car was found abandoned at Chilliwack trail

‘I wish someone would come forward with insight into your whereabouts,’ pleads mom of missing man

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Langley activist Dorscie Paterson celebrated her 108th birthday on Monday, Jan. 25 at the Cedar Hill long term care facility. Because of the pandemic, she remained inside, able to see, but not shake hands with visitors. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Celebrating a 108th birthday without physical contact

Pandemic required Langley woman to stay behind a window

Most Read