British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: West Vancouver-Capilano riding profile

A look at West Vancouver-Capilano, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

The North Shore has traditionally been a B.C. Liberal stronghold. Will it remain so in 2017?

Broadly speaking, the riding contains the eastern half of West Vancouver, and the western part of the District of North Vancouver. (Elections BC)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is West Vancouver-Capilano, one of four ridings on the North Shore — and one that has traditionally been difficult for the NDP to compete in.

1. The likelihood that Ralph Sultan and the B.C. Liberals will win West Vancouver-Capilano approaches metaphysical certitude.

The B.C. Liberals received 67 per cent of the vote here in 2013, highest in the province.

The B.C. Liberals have won this seat by at least 9,000 votes in every election since it was created prior to 1991.

The NDP have never won this seat.

The B.C. Liberal candidate is the highly respected and controversy free four-term MLA, Ralph Sultan.

Politically speaking, it's not an interesting race.

2. Not an interesting race, but Ralph Sultan is an interesting MLA.

Prior to politics, the Harvard-educated, former Royal Bank chief economist lived a full life running various mining and banking companies.

But after the sudden death of his wife in 1999, he decided politics would suit him better than retirement and became one of B.C.'s oldest first-term MLAs at the age of 67. 

"I thought this will be a piece of cake. I've helped run Anglo-American corporations. This can't be difficult. To be faced day by day with the human condition is what I quite soon realized is a very important part of this job, and you better do it well or you're going to send a lot of disappointed people away, and they won't vote for you next time," he said. 

And 16 years after first being elected, he says he still enjoys the basic interactions that dominate constituency work. 

"This was a forced march into society. How does the world actually work at the human level? It was a post-graduate education for me that I was very surprised to realize was very important, but it turned out I rather enjoyed it. In fact it was humbling."  

3. Sultan is fully aware why he is the heavy favourite in West Vancouver-Capitano.  

"Anyway you cut it, this is a more privileged part of the province. My constituents are frequently retired business people or professional people … they, by and large, have achieved the good life and want to maintain it, so they're terribly concerned if anything should happen that would disrupt their world," he said. 

"I think that's why they see the accomplishments of this government over the last 15 years as very reassuring."  

4. There are (very small) differences between the two parts of the riding. 

While the name is West Vancouver-Capilano, the riding is split fairly evenly between the parts of West Vancouver to the east of 28th Street, and the parts of the District of North Vancouver to the west of Lonsdale and north of Marine.

Politically, however, there's not much difference: in the 2013 election, the B.C. Liberals got 62.8 per cent of the vote at North Van polling stations ... and 70 per cent at West Van stations.

5. The Green Party is running one of their most well-known candidates in this riding.

Michael Markwick, former president of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, was named the party's nominee in February. The NDP candidate is Medhi Russel, a doctor and owner of a pharmaceutical consulting company. 

6. Where does the NDP do well? 

It received more votes than the B.C. Liberals at one polling station last election — one of the apartments in the Woodcroft Complex, wedged between Highway 1 and the Capilano River.   

7. What about the Liberals? 

Perched at the foot of Cypress Mountain, the party regularly gets between 75 and 90 per cent of the vote in polling stations in the British Properties. 

8. Sultan knows this might be his last campaign.

"I guess you say never say never, but there does come a point where you say, OK guys, let's get realistic here …. I can't predict four years down, but all of the other forces of age and family and personal situation do tend to accumulate over time, as happens to all of us," he said.

Still, he's planning on buying some new shoes to traverse the many hills in his riding, for what will be steep climbs physically … if not necessarily electorally.

"Christy is not taking anything for granted, and that includes, she reminds me, West Vancouver-Capilano," he said, recounting that his new campaign manager made a point of saying that in her last federal campaign on the North Shore, her candidate's team reached 25,000 households. 

"I said 25,000? That's her benchmark. I said ok, I'll give it my best shot. It'll be good for my cardiac condition, I'm sure."

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