|Premier Christy Clark hopes to be Vancouver-Point Grey's second MLA/Premier this year|
By BILL TIELEMAN, COLUMNIST
24 hours Vancouver
A research firm closely connected to the B.C. Liberals has been polling heavily in Vancouver-Point Grey, the riding where Premier Christy Clark confirmed Monday she will run in a by-election, likely by mid-May.
And 24 hours has exclusively obtained all the questions being asked last week, which show Clark is concerned about the upstart B.C. Conservatives under leadership candidate John Cummins, a former Conservative MP, and the Harmonized Sales Tax.
In a news release Monday Clark said she will run in the riding vacated by ex-Premier Gordon Campbell but did not set a by-election date. It must be called by September 15 unless a general election takes place.
The polling was conducted by Select Field Services, a firm owned by Innovative Research Group. Clark’s Chief of Staff Mike McDonald worked for Innovative until last month.
Greg Lyle, owner of both companies, ran Campbell’s 1996 provincial election campaign. He declined comment about the polling or who his client is.
As previously reported here exclusively, Innovative was also polling extensively in Vancouver-Point Grey in early March.
The polling asked if voters would back Clark, Cummins, or possible NDP candidates Patti Bacchus - the Vision Vancouver chair of the Vancouver School Board or Mel Lehan - the NDP's candidate the last two elections, or an unnamed Green candidate. Neither Bacchus nor Lehan has said they are running in the by-election.
The polling also asked whether respondents oppose the HST and if Clark’s minimum wage increase made it more likely they would vote for her.
Vancouver Island University Professor Allan Warnke says Clark should be worried.
“John Cummins adds some credibility right away to the B.C. Conservatives,” he said, adding that the party's advisory group of former Reform MPs will also help.
"Randy White is a good organizer," Warnke noted.
But B.C. Conservative spokesperson Keith Roy says Cummins won’t run in Vancouver-Point Grey.
“We’re the biggest threat to their government right now,” he said. “I’d like to thank the B.C. Liberals for finally showing us some respect.”
Warnke, himself a former B.C. Liberal MLA, said Clark would have preferred that ex-cabinet minister Colin Hansen resign in neighbouring Vancouver-Quilchena riding instead because “it’s a much safer seat.”
Campbell won Vancouver-Point Grey in 1996, 2001, 2005 and 2009 general elections, besting the NDP by 10% in the last contest.
In the past NDP MLAs Darlene Marzari and Tom Perry have held the riding with slightly different boundaries.