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Battleground BC

The Thompson-Coquihalla, Lali Returns

Liberals likely to hold at least three, but NDP has prospered in the past.

By Will McMartin, 1 Apr 2005,

The city and electoral district of Kamloops is the focal point of this sub-region. Established in 1903, the year that political parties arrived on the provincial scene, the Kamloops riding has never returned an opposition MLA. In other words, for more than a century the seat has always been held by a government representative. Kamloops is a true bellwether riding.

Socred MLA and controversial cabinet minister ‘Flying’ Phil Gagliardi held the seat from 1952 until 1972, when it was won by Gerald Anderson, a New Democrat. Three years later the seat returned to Social Credit, first under Rafe Mair (1975-1981), and then Claude Richmond (1981-1991). The New Democrats regained the seat with Art Charbonneau (1991-1996) and Cathy McGregor (1996-2001), and then Richmond was re-elected as a Liberal in the last general election.

The Kamloops-North Thompson electoral district, created prior to the 1991 general election, includes parts of the city and Chase in the south, and extends through Barriere and Clearwater to Blue River in the north. The riding was first won by Fred Jackson, a New Democrat. He lost the seat in 1996 to Kevin Krueger, a Liberal, who won re-election in 2001.

To the east lies the Shuswap riding, which includes the municipalities of Salmon Arm and Sicamous. The district was represented by Social Credit MLAs from 1952 to 1969, then elected a New Democrat in 1972, and was restored to the Socreds in 1975. Following amalgamation with the neighbouring Revelstoke district, the riding returned NDP MLA Bill King in 1979, and then Cliff Michael, a Socred, won election in 1983 and 1986. In 1991, the again-redrawn Shuswap district elected New Democrat Shannon O’Neill, but she was defeated in 1996 by Liberal George Abbott, who was re-elected in 2001.

West and south of Kamloops is the sprawling Yale-Lillooet district, which covers the municipalities of Hope, Yale, Princeton, Keremeos, Logan Lake, Merritt, Lytton and Lillooet. Created in 1966, the seat was held by Bill Hartley, a New Democrat, until 1975, and then by Socreds Tom Waterland (1975-1986) and Jim Rabbitt (1986-1991). Harry Lali regained the seat for the NDP in 1991 and held it until 2001, when he retired. He was succeeded by Dave Chutter, a Liberal.

NDP thumped last time

In 2001, the Liberals won 58.5% of the vote in the Thompson-Coquihalla sub-region, slightly higher share than their province-wide total of 57.6%. By comparison, the New Democrats took 18.8% of the vote, somewhat below the 21.6% they garnered across the province.

Liberal MLAs Richmond, Krueger and Abbott are seeking re-election in 2005; Chutter opted to retire from public life after a single term in the legislature.

Liberals try to hang onto Yale-Lillooet

It appears likely that the three Liberals incumbents in Kamloops, Kamloops-North Thompson and Shuswap will be re-elected, but the New Democrats are certain to pull out all the stops to win the key bellwether.

Yale-Lillooet is more likely to change hands than the other three seats in this sub-region, and is in the ‘toss-up’ column. That in part is because of Chutter’s retirement, but another key factor is the reappearance of former NDP MLA Harry Lali, who may be expected to make a concerted effort to recapture his former seat.

TABLE -- Ridings in the Thompson-Coquihalla sub-region, listed in order of Liberals’ 2001 vote-share

  • Kamloops — 60.2%
  • Yale-Lillooet — 60.1%
  • Kamloops-North Thompson — 58.0%
  • Shuswap — 56.3%

Check in daily for Battleground BC, Will McMartin’s voting predictions and analysis, exclusive to The Tyee. Contact McMartin at  [Tyee]