With a month and a half before voters in Canada’s largest western province go to the polls, the New Democratic Party of British Columbia under opposition leader Adrian Dix seems set to take control of the provincial government after over a decade of rule by the British Columbia Liberal Party, though the official campaign has yet to begin.
British Columbia is, in many ways, the future of Canada — oriented toward the Asia-Pacific rim, not toward the United Kingdom and the Atlantic. The province’s welcoming approach to immigration, including a large wave of Cantonese-speaking Chinese from Hong Kong in advance of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong control from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China, was a prologue to what’s now happening all over Canada. As of a decade ago, while 75% of British Columbians spoke English only, just around 2% were exclusive French speakers, and nearly 25% spoke a number of languages other than English or French, and the province’s diversity has only grown in the past decade.
Nearly 10% of British Columbia’s population today is Chinese in origin, nearly 6% is Indian in origin.
The reality of British Columbia — and increasingly, the reality of Canada nationwide — is making nonsense of the eastern bilingual French/English divide that underlined the constitutional fights of the late 20th century.
With over 4.5 million people (around 13% of Canada’s population), it’s still less populous than Ontario or Québec, but it’s growing at a faster rate than either, with an economy split between a traditional dominance on forestry and tourism and the growing importance of mining — much like its neighbor to the east, Alberta.
Polls for the past year have shown a wide lead for the BC NDP in the elections scheduled for May 14 — a recent mid-March Angus Reid poll gives the BC NDP 48% support to just 28% support for the BC Liberals, and 11% each for the British Columbia Green Party and the British Columbia Conservative Party — the BC Conservatives take 17% in the province’s interior, while the Greens win 18% on Vancouver Island: Continue reading BC NDP holds overwhelming lead in advance of British Columbia elections