Burnaby

Liberal incumbent Terry Beech (left) will try to fend off both Conservative Heather Leung (top) and the NDPs Svend Robinson

The North Vancouver/Burnaby blend could be up for grabs in the 2019 federal election

We're not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s a federal election coming up in October. In the coming weeks, BCBusiness will profile the ridings in the province that are most vulnerable, according to 338Canada.com. Today’s edition focuses on Burnaby North–Seymour.

Less than two months away from the federal election, there are a handful of uncertainties that need resolving. 

And while the federal narrative will undoubtedly shine on the battle between party leaders Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer, key fights waged in ridings around the country will determine what the next House of Commons looks like. 

B.C. in general will hold some sway over the federal results, and Burnaby North–Seymour could be one of the province’s closer races.

Let’s see how the riding stacks up. 

What happened previously?

In the 2015 election, Liberal MP (and former Nanaimo city councillor) Terry Beech won the newly formed riding, an amalgamation of the Burnaby-Douglas and North Vancouver constituencies.

It wasn’t exactly a walk, though, with Beech taking 36 percent of the vote, compared to 29 and 27 percent for the NDP and the Conservative Party, respectively. 

Of course, it must be said that, accounting for the boundary change, the redistributed results of the 2011 election show a 44-percent preference for the Conservatives. 

Beech’s win was helped in large part by the popularity of Justin Trudeau nationwide and fear of splitting the vote between the Liberals and NDP.

Who’s running?

Beech will be back trying to defend his crown, but the field has changed quite a bit. Most notably, former Burnaby-Douglas MP Svend Robinson is set to challenge for the NDP.

One of the most popular MPs in recent memory (and the first to come out as gay while in office), he’s also the longest-serving B.C. MP of all time, occupying office from 1979 until deciding not to run in 2004. 

Of course, that decision was due to his being charged with theft. Robinson also tried to come back in the 2006 election but was thumped by Liberal Hedy Fry in Vancouver Centre. Back in his home court, can Robinson do some damage?

The Conservative Party is surely eyeing this riding as a chance to split some votes on the left side of the spectrum and come up the middle. But is the party botching the opportunity with the anti-abortion, anti-SOGI Heather Leung as its candidate? We would say yes, definitely. 

There’s also astrophysicist Amita Kuttner running for the Greens and Rocky Dong fighting (literally) for the People’s Party of Canada.

What are the key issues?

The main issue that’s specific to this riding is the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It’s one that Robinson will no doubt prioritize in the hope of portraying Beech and the Liberal government as wilful destroyers of the environment.

But Beech isn’t exactly a punching bag—expect him to have some good rebuttals if there are all-candidates sessions before voting day. He's also expressed serious concerns about climate change and will be ready for Robinson's attacks.

What do the polls say?

The latest from 338 has the Liberals and Conservatives in a dead heat, with the former (50.1 percent chance of winning) having a perceived edge over the latter (46.4), according to recent polls.

The site doesn’t have much faith in the NDP, giving the party a 3.5-percent chance of taking the seat.

It’s swung a lot, though—less than two months ago, the Tories were primed for a big win.

Prediction

We think it’ll be closer than projected here. While the importance of the pipeline expansion might be slightly overstated, the NDP have a shot at this thing. It’ll depend on how well Beech can pound the pavement and convince voters that he’s still worthy of their support.

Even though the numbers show that the Conservatives are very much in this race, we’re not sure we can see them taking the riding, given Leung’s relative anonymity in the region and her stance on some key social issues.

We’ll give it to Beech, but don’t be surprised if Robinson starts making up some ground quickly when the campaign gets into full force.