Poll suggests NDP lead in federal riding that includes Parksville Qualicum Beach

MP John Duncan dismisses the survey as a 'push poll', while NDP candidate Gord Johns says he is encouraged

A recent federal election poll shows an orange wave ready to take over four “battleground” ridings in B.C. — including the new local Courtenay-Alberni.

But Vancouver Island North Conservative incumbent John Duncan says the data doesn’t mean much.

“This is obviously a push poll,” Duncan, who is vying for the Courtenay-Alberni riding, told The NEWS Friday afternoon from Parksville. “I don’t detect anything in my world that reflects what their poll is saying.”

According to the Dogwood Initiative poll released Wednesday, 33 per cent of voting age people would elect an NDP candidate in the Courtenay-Alberni riding, which includes Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Courtenay, Baynes Sound, Denman and Hornby Islands, Cumberland, Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet.

The poll shows the Conservatives have 23 per cent of the vote, the Liberals have 11 per cent while the Greens have nine per cent in this riding. It notes 23 per cent of voters are undecided.

“Anything done by Dogwood Initiative is a push poll and done with an objective in mind,” said Duncan. “I really don’t pay any credence to any result they might be announcing and everyone that I’ve talked to thinks similarly.”

The poll also suggests the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair is the preferred prime minister, the majority of constituents don’t believe B.C. would benefit from more oil tankers on the coast, Canada isn’t doing enough to deal with climate change and Canada should adopt a new voting system for federal elections.

According to the Dogwood Initiative, the results are based on a telephone survey conducted May 8-11, 2015 where 301 adults in the Courtenay-Alberni riding were contacted. The margin of error is +/- 5.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

“I could get any result I want with 300 phone calls just depending where I choose to phone,” said Duncan, who criticized Dogwood Initiative for “attempting to create environmental politics in B.C.”

He said he’s not worried about the results because “those aren’t results, they’re predetermined statements.”

On the other hand, NDP candidate Gord Johns said Dogwood’s poll echoed what he’s hearing at the doorstep.

“It’s really encouraging,” he said. “There’s growing momentum for the NDP… the key lesson from Alberta is the NDP is the best choice to replace conservative governments.”

But Johns said he isn’t taking anything for granted and will continue to knock on doors up until election day this fall.

“The NDP is the only party that can beat the Conservatives,” he said. “It’s great to see the support for issues that are important to people in our riding and certainly protecting our coast is an important issue and people are making it an election issue to protect our healthy environment.”

Green Party candidate Glenn Sollitt said “it’s pretty clear change is going to happen.”

“In this riding specifically, polls aside, everything I hear is it’s the NDP versus the Greens,” he said, adding he’s hoping people vote for the “issues and party and candidate they want to win instead of voting (against) who they don’t want to win.”

He said “people don’t have to be scared (and vote strategically), change is going to happen.”

“Electoral reform is the single biggest issue I’ve come across and the environment is clearly an issue as well,” said Sollitt. “That’s what’s puzzling about the Dogwood poll… It shows there’s a real distaste for tankers on the coast, a real distaste for projects like Kinder Morgan. The Green Party is the only party opposing all that, we’re the only party against any increase in tanker traffic… That’s where I see a disconnect in the poll results.”

While Sollitt said Dogwood’s results reflected what he’s been hearing in the community in terms of wanting change, he noted “it’s one dot in a scatter of data.”

Liberal candidate Carrie Powell-Davidson, a former two-term Parksville city councillor, said the poll reflects what she’s been hearing as well.

“Voters in the Courtenay-Alberni riding are ready for a change,” she said, but noted “polls taken before an election has even been called only show that there is still much work to do and my team and I are working hard every day to be that change.”

Powell-Davidson said she wasn’t surprised with the NDP’s success in the poll given Alberta’s recent election and confusion surrounding Bill C-51.

“This bump (is) not surprising,” she said. “We still have a long way to go and there is still a whole lot of hard work to do… I am not too worried about this poll.”

Dogwood Initiative’s poll also looked at the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding, the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding and the Burnaby-North Seymour riding. For more information or to view the poll visit www.dogwoodinitiative.org.

The upcoming federal election for the new Courtenay-Alberni riding is slated for Oct. 19, 2015.

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