First in the polls, last out of the gate
Thursday, August 6, 2015 @ 3:45 AM
By Bill Phillips
There is no doubt that Bob Zimmer and Todd Doherty have the upper hand in the Prince George election campaigns.
Zimmer, in Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, is the incumbent and the riding has been staunchly Conservative for decades. In his first term as MP, Zimmer kept his nose clean and was a loyal Conservative MP, so unseating him will be a gargantuan task.
In Cariboo-Prince George, where we’ve had the audacity to elect a New Democrat a couple of eons ago (before the riding included the Cariboo), the possibility of an upset, although perhaps a slim one, does exist. Conservative candidate Doherty was obviously ready for the writ to be dropped on Sunday. I don’t think Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s pronouncement had finished ringing off the walls at Rideau Hall when Doherty was out putting up election signs.
And that’s one of the reasons Doherty has the upper hand – preparedness.
Doherty won the party nomination last fall and has been campaigning ever since. He was obviously prepared for the writ to be dropped and acted.
Even though the election date of October 19 has never been a secret, the NDP and the Liberals are still scrambling in the two Prince George ridings.
The Liberals, however, seem to have sorted things out with Matt Shaw deciding to run in the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding against Zimmer. Shaw was originally going to run in Cariboo-Prince George against Tracy Calogerhos. By moving over to the northern riding, the Liberals don’t have to hold a nomination meeting in either riding and, as soon as the two are vetted by the party, they can begin campaigning.
The NDP nomination in Cariboo-Prince George has been nothing short of puzzling. The party has had three candidates seeking the nomination in place since May … Trent Derrick, Debora Munoz, and Laura Zimmerman.
The party (head office, not the locals) has delayed the nomination meeting several times. It was originally going to be held in late June. That got pushed to early July, then late July, and now August 29.
Why the delay? No one seems to know, other than it’s the folks in Ottawa who decide these things.
That leaves some (mostly me) wondering if the party, thinking perhaps the riding is winnable, has been looking for a ‘star’ candidate to run in Cariboo-Prince George, or maybe they’re just hoping a star candidate will come forward.
To me, there is no other reason for the party to delay candidate selection for two months after three candidates were already chomping at the bit.
In addition, the early election call was no secret … most of the country, except the NDP apparently, suspected weeks before that Harper was likely going to make a trip to Rideau Hall August 2. So why delay candidate selection until a month into the campaign?
Everyone is already six months behind Doherty in terms of campaign time and the NDP are poised to lose another month. Not a good move, especially if they think the riding is winnable.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at email@example.com