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Battleground BC

North-Central Surrey: A Key Battlefront

Traditionally left-leaning, swept by Libs in 2001, six ridings in serious play.

By Will McMartin, 8 Apr 2005, TheTyee.ca

This Battleground BC sub-region includes six ridings: Surrey-Green Timbers, Surrey-Newton, Surrey-Panorama Ridge, Surrey-Tynehead, Surrey-Whalley, and Delta North. It includes those parts of the municipalities of Delta and Surrey lying north of Boundary Bay and the Serpentine River, west of Highway 91, and south of the Fraser River.

After many decades as part of the massive Delta riding, Surrey got its own seat in the legislature in 1966. It remained a single-member constituency through four general elections, and then in 1979 became a two-seat riding. The municipality entered a period of rapid growth in the early 1980s, and was transformed into three single-member seats in 1986. It then had five in 1991, and seven in 2001.

Generally over the past four decades, north Surrey has supported the political ‘left’ (the New Democratic Party), while the south has backed the ‘right’ (Social Credit and the Liberals). Among the NDP MLAs elected in Surrey or north Surrey over the period were Ernie Hall (1966, 1969, 1972 and 1979), Joan Smallwood (1986, 1991 and 1996), Penny Priddy (1991 and 1996) and Sue Hammell (1991 and 1996).

The riding of Delta was divided into north and south constituencies in 1991. The latter, which includes Ladner and Tsawwassen, that year returned a Liberal MLA, while North Delta elected Norm Lortie, a New Democrat. Lortie lost the seat by 648 votes to Reni Masi, a Liberal, in 1996.

All six seats in this sub-region were won by the Liberals in 2001. In the fall of 2004, however, New Democrat Jagrup Brar scored a convincing by-election victory in Surrey-Panorama Ridge. Electoral history and Brar’s recent upset suggests that this area will be a key battleground in the looming May 17 general election.

The NDP’s Bruce Ralston should easily capture Surrey-Whalley, in part because MLA Elayne Brenzinger has abandoned the Liberals and joined the fledgling DRBC party, but mostly because the seat traditionally supports the New Democrats. Another likely NDP gain is in next-door Surrey-Green Timbers, where former MLA Hammell is attempting to reverse her 2001 loss to Liberal Brenda Locke.

Three ridings bear close examination once the campaign gets underway: Delta North, which has no incumbent following Masi’s retirement; Surrey-Newton, where the Liberals have nominated Olympic athlete Daniel Igali to replace MLA Tony Bhullar; and Surrey-Panorama Ridge, site of Brar’s by-election upset. Barring a significant turn of events, Surrey-Tynehead, now represented by MLA Dave Hayer, should stay in Liberal hands.

TABLE -- North-Central Surrey, listed in order of Liberals’ 2001 vote-share

  • Surrey-Tynehead — 61.0
  • Delta North — 60.5%
  • Surrey-Panorama Ridge — 58.9
  • Surrey-Newton — 49.5
  • Surrey-Green Timbers — 49.0
  • Surrey-Whalley — 45.7

Check in daily for Battleground BC, Will McMartin’s voting predictions and analysis, exclusive to The Tyee. You can reach him with tips, insights and info at will@thetyee.ca  [Tyee]