The Tyee

Vancouver Westside: Premier’s Stomping Ground

Two seats nailed down for Libs, but watch Vancouver-Fairview.

By: By Will McMartin, 11 April 2005,

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While Vancouver's east-side has historically elected representatives from the 'left' of the political spectrum, the west-side generally has favoured those from the 'right.' It is one of five Battleground BC 'right-of-centre' regions. From 1903 until 1952 - that is, from the introduction of party lines in B.C. until the election of W.A.C. Bennett's Social Credit government - Vancouver's west-side regularly returned Liberal and Conservative MLAs.

In 1952, the Socreds established a toe-hold in the city with the return of Tilly Rolston (a former Tory MLA) in Vancouver-Point Grey, and victories by Bert Price and Eric Martin in Vancouver-Centre. Over the next two decades, Social Credit slowly bolstered its Vancouver representation with the election of MLAs such as Bob Bonner, Les Peterson, Buda Brown, Ralph Loffmark, Harold Merilees, Grace McCarthy, Herb Capozzi, Evan Wolfe and Agnes Kripps, By 1969, when the city of Vancouver had 12 seats in six ridings, eight were held by the Socreds, two by the New Democrats, and two by the Liberals. The latter were in Vancouver-Point Grey, where MLAs Pat McGeer and Garde Gardom resisted Social Credit advances.

But 1972 brought defeat for the Social Credit government and the election of B.C.'s first NDP administration. The Socreds were swept from Vancouver as the NDP won 10 city seats, but McGeer and Gardom hung on in Point Grey. Three years later, after Bill Bennett succeeded his father as Social Credit leader, McGeer, Gardom and West Vancouver MLA Allan Williams left the Liberals to seek re-election under the Socred banner, and the New Democratic Party government was defeated after a single term in office. But the re-made Social Credit party won only half of Vancouver's six two-member ridings - Point Grey, Little Mountain, and South - as the NDP retained East, Centre and Burrard.

The next two general elections, in 1979 and 1983, following redistribution which eliminated Vancouver-Burrard (thereby reducing Vancouver's representation to 10 seats), the Socreds held onto its three ridings and the New Democrats retained their two.

The 1986 general election saw the NDP achieve its first-ever west-side victory as Darlene Marzari defeated McGeer in one of the two Point Grey seats. Marzari's seat-mate was Socred newcomer Kim Campbell, who resigned in 1988 to run federally (she later became Canada's first female prime minister), and the subsequent by-election was won by another New Democrat, Tom Perry.

Redistribution prior to the 1991 general election eliminated the city's five two-member ridings, replacing them with 10 single-member seats. In the contest that followed, Social Credit disappeared from Vancouver as the NDP won eight city seats, and the once-dormant Liberals captured Vancouver-Quilchena and Vancouver-Langara. Five years later, under the leadership of former Vancouver mayor, Gordon Campbell, the Liberals doubled their Vancouver seat-total to four, all on the west-side: Quilchena, Langara, Vancouver-Point Grey, and Vancouver-Little Mountain. In 2001, the Liberals won all but two of Vancouver's 10 seats.

In 2005, the Liberals should handily retain Langara and Quilchena, and Campbell is likely to be returned in Point Grey. The battle to watch will be in Vancouver-Fairview (formerly Little Mountain), won in 1996 and 2001 by the since-retired Liberal, Gary Collins. The presence of two 'star' candidates - Liberal Virginia Greene, and New Democrat Gregor Robertson - makes Fairview a race to watch over the coming weeks.

TABLE -- Vancouver Westside ridings, listed in order of Liberals' 2001 vote-share

  • Vancouver-Quilchena - 73.9%
  • Vancouver-Langara - 66.9
  • Vancouver-Point Grey - 56.1
  • Vancouver-Fairview - 54.9

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  [Tyee]