May 10, 2001
VERNON - Premier Ujjal Dosanjh may have conceded Wednesday's election already, but his candidates in the Okanagan aren't giving up so quickly.
Okanagan-Vernon NDP candidate Troy Sebastian and Kelowna-Lake Country's Janet Scotland told the North Okanagan Labour Council Wednesday they're still fighting to win their ridings.
"Locally, we've run a fairly effective campaign," said Sebastian, basking in the good reviews he received for his performance at recent all-candidates' debates.
Sebastian cautioned the Vernon area could be brushed aside if the Liberals sweep the Okanagan.
Kelowna's two incumbent MLAs will have a more powerful voice - and the leader's ear - in Victoria than rookie candidate Tom Christensen would, Sebastian said.
"If the entire Okanagan goes Liberal, Kelowna will be getting more attention. The North Okanagan is going to be left behind," he said, suggesting an outspoken opposition member might be better for the area.
Scotland said that a high percentage of undecided voters means the Kelowna-Lake Country race is still up in the air.
Scotland said her door-to-door campaigning confirms what recent opinion polls have been saying - that about one-third of voters are still undecided. Scotland says that while many undecided voters she talks to are mad at the NDP, they also don't trust Liberal leader Gordon Campbell.
Breaking down the vote, she said the NDP can count on its traditional core vote of 15-25 per cent and noted that Liberal John Weisbeck won the riding with just 38 per cent of the vote in 1996.
The old Judi Tyabji vote may decide Wednesday's race. In 1996, the Progressive Democratic Alliance incumbent finished second to Weisbeck with 26 per cent of the vote. Scotland was third at 21 per cent.
Tyabji's vote is now up for grabs.
"We're not down for the count yet," Scotland declared.
Scotland complained Weisbeck has not been a strong voice for the riding in Victoria and predicted he will be even less outspoken on the government backbench.
"He'll do what Campbell tells him to. He won't speak up for the riding."
Acknowledging that many rank-and-file union members appear to be abandoning the NDP, Scotland wondered what those workers who vote Liberal will be saying in three years when they find the Liberals have reduced their benefits, allowed their jobs to be contracted out and introduced more "flexibility" to provincial labour laws.