Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – Election Games

Ironically in the Hodge House Tez ranks number one as political junkie. In general I lack enthusiasm or faith in federal or provincial politics simply because I’m not a ‘party’ fan when it comes to democracy. I prefer politicians stand by their own values, ideals and decisions rather than simply tote the ‘party line’. Rarely does an elected official, provincial or federal, speak or vote against a party held view.

My interest (obviously) is in municipal politics where politicians are held accountable for their own thoughts and decisions – and on the front line for public input. I rarely get through a shopping trip or adventure out of the home without a resident approaching with comment or concern. I regularly receive phone calls and emails from residents with questions or thoughts – and welcome them. It’s what I asked for when I ran.

On Tuesday night, however, I admit to being keenest on checking out leaders of the three main parties battling for king or queen of the hill October 24. I was keen on seeing how Horgan would defend his election call and learn how savvy the new leader of the Green Party is.

I never did hear clear explanation for NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election (though admittedly I missed the first 20 minutes), yet certainly learned about the Green leader.

Sonia Furstenau  spanked the NDP and Liberals for not making a transition to clean energy, suggesting they simply ‘propped up’ large energy projects with “billions in taxpayers’ money”.

Throughout the evening Furstenau was articulate, calm, bright and strong. She was refreshing in her style and while certainly aggressive in her questions for other candidates (and during counter debates), she showed poise and decorum throughout.

Not a bad showing for a rookie jumping into a leadership role. If anyone gained ground Tuesday it was Furstenau.

Horgan also gave a strong showing and for the most part controlled and stuck to issues – though he quickly relished in admonishment when opportunities arose.

Horgan argued outbreaks in long-term care homes during the pandemic were the fault of the Liberals for eliminating 10,000 jobs in health nearly 20 years ago suggesting the move had “profound and tragic” consequences for those living in care homes during the pandemic.

Overall Horgan neither gained or lost ground.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson focused much of his time attacking Horgan and the NDP policies much of which Horgan aptly defended.

Wilkinson also focused on decisions made long ago, reminding voters his party built 14 hospitals when in charge while stating the NDP built none during their three years.

Wilkinson attacked Horgan for failing to get a hospital built in Surrey. That inspired the harshest retort of the night with Horgan stating the reason the hospital had not been constructed was the Liberals’ fault.

“You sold the land, man,” Horgan said.

Hard as he tried Wilkinson often looked like the weakest of the three, uncomfortable and more willing to be critical than forward thinking. If anyone slipped at all it may of have been the Liberal leader.

The three debated other topics including homelessness, pipelines, big energy projects, and which party has the best chance of restoring economic confidence after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now it is up to you – the voter.

I suggest the NDP will win this election easier than some believe, though that will not be the case locally. The Kelowna area’s three ridings are historically ‘right’ and there is little doubt that will remain the case when this battle is done. Here’s my thinking.

Kelowna – Lake Country: Liberals have easily held the riding since created in 1996. Incumbent Norm Letnick more than doubled his nearest competitors in the last two elections.

NDP Justin Kulik is a 19-year-old UBC Okanagan student who ran unsuccessfully for the NDP in the 2019 federal election.

Green candidate John Janmaat, Libertarian: Kyle Geronazzo, and Independent Silverado Brooks Socrates have not got a chance.

If any riding might face a change it is Kelowna-Mission which has voted for the Social Credit and Liberal parties for decades, never once electing an NDP MLA.

In 2017, BC Liberal incumbent Steve Thomson nearly tripled his NDP competitor, winning close to 58 per cent of the vote.

However Thomson has retired with Renee Merrifield up the banner. Merrifield has failed in previous political aspirations and faces a couple of popular candidates in NDP senior ministerial assistant Krystal Smith and Green Amanda Poon.

Last but not least my riding of Kelowna West (aka Christy’s Thumb) remains among the safest BC Liberal seats in B.C. Former premier Christy Clark won the riding in a 2013 by-election after Liberals won the 2013 provincial election but Clark lost her own seat.

Ben Stewart, who stepped aside for Clark, won the riding back in another by-election. Stewart seems favoured to win yet again facing largely unknowns NDP Spring Hawes, Libertarian Party Matt Badura, and Green Peter Truch

Advance polls for the Oct. 24 provincial election open across the province Thursday. Please exercise your democratic privilege and make the minor effort to vote.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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