Who will be crowned? Final strategies play out as B.C. campaign wraps up

The B.C. election campaign has been like a 28 day game of chess. Back and forth the parties have gone, trying to expose each others weaknesses, while also making sure they protect themselves from getting knocked out. On Tuesday, the parties will find out if their strategies worked.

Voters could choose Clark, change or a balance of power

B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark might have a slight edge over the NDP's John Horgan in Tuesday's provincial election if the seat projections based on the latest polls prove correct (CBC)

The B.C. election campaign has been like a 28-day game of chess. 

Back and forth the B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP have gone, trying to expose their opponents' weaknesses, while making sure they protect themselves from getting knocked out.

On Tuesday, the parties will find out which strategy worked.

For the B.C. Liberals, the play has mimicked the campaign of the 2013 election.

In the face of rising home prices and growing unaffordability in many regions of the province, Christy Clark has been trying once again to convince the electorate things would be worse under the B.C. NDP.

She's made the same pitch throughout the campaign: B.C. is leading the country in economic growth and led the country in job growth in April.

"I am going for my second term," said Clark. "We haven't grown this fast compared to the rest of the country since 1961. B.C. is doing really well."

Liberal Leader Christy Clark, right, stops to pose for a selfie with carpentry apprentice Chuck Hogg during a campaign stop at StructureCraft Builders in Delta, B.C., on Monday April 24, 2017. A provincial election will be held on May 9. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck (The Canadian Press / Darryl Dyck)

NDP counting on change

When the legislature was dissolved in April, the NDP had 35 seats, to the B.C. Liberals' 47. 

When you factor in the new electoral boundaries, it means John Horgan's party needs to gain 9 seats to get the 44 seats needed to form a majority government.

That's a lot of change, especially considering the B.C. NDP have only won a provincial election three times in history, making the NDP leader's path to victory much harder.

"People are yearning for a government that works for them...on health care and education," said Horgan. "When people look at the B.C. NDP I want them to know this is someone that has their back."

John Horgan ordering a crepe on the campaign trail on May 1, 2017. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Cautious of change

Kevin Falcon, who was Clark's first finance minister before leaving politics, believes the change the NDP is promising can be expensive — especially when it comes to implementing new policies.

"The Liberals have to get across the risk of change. Change for the sake of change can sometimes have unintended consequences." 

One of those consequences, he says, would likely be a tax hike - not just for the province's most wealthy and for corporations but also for those who make more than $70,000 a year.

NDP banks on benefits

But what the NDP is hoping for is voters are inspired by their big ideas that include eliminating bridge tolls, phasing out MSP premiums and bringing in a $10 dollar a day childcare program.

"They need to communicate with people who are wanting change that the best opportunity for change is rallying behind the NDP," said former NDP communications director and current Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs. "That is the only way they are going to get ... improvements in affordability and the other things that are making their lives difficult."

Andrew Weaver talks to a Green candidate on Thursday May 5, 2017. (CBC)

A win for the Greens?

And that means the B.C. NDP's final strategy is dismantling the Green vote.

Horgan has spent many of the campaign's final days in strong NDP Vancouver Island ridings to discourage voters from casting a ballot for the Greens.

That's where Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver comes into play. 

His best hope is to focus on adding seats in Cowichan Valley, Saanich North and the Islands and then hope the rest of the province is so close that he holds the balance of power in a minority government.

"Neither of those parties should be trusted with a majority," said Weaver. "Let's see how many seats they have [in the end]. It's irresponsible at this point in the election to rule anything out."

That means there may not actually be a clear victor after Tuesday. It could instead be Weaver controlling the chess board, making a king out of one of the others.