Did those election signs change anyone’s mind in Langley? Something did. (Joti Grewal/Langley Advance Times files)

Did those election signs change anyone’s mind in Langley? Something did. (Joti Grewal/Langley Advance Times files)

Painful Truth: Demographic transition an election fairy tale

It turns out people in Langley actually can change their minds

The snap election is over, and the map of B.C. politics has been radically altered.

John Horgan’s canny opportunism has made him the first NDP leader to be reelected as premier, something neither Dave Barrett nor Mike Harcourt were able to pull off.

How did he do it?

Hindsight is 20/20, but I am already having some doubts about one of the explanations being bandied about, namely that this was a matter of changing demographics.

For example, Langley has been seen as a bastion of small-c conservatism in Metro Vancouver, along with Abbotsford to the east.

So the federal Liberals and the provincial and federal NDP have long pinned their hopes on the fact that it’s also one of the fastest-growing communities in the province.

More people are moving here all the time! And they’re different, younger, more diverse! They’re new Canadians, and they’re also young families from Vancouver and Burnaby and the Tri-Cities. Surely that would tip the scales a bit towards the center, maybe even the center-left?

But is there another explanation possible for the big swing in the Langley and Langley East ridings?

What about Andrew Wilkinson’s terrible campaign? The Liberal leader’s facial expression often resembled Wile E. Coyote’s, just after he realizes he’s run off the cliff again.

What about the fact that it was a COVID-19 referendum, and that voters had already decided the NDP was doing a fine job, no need to change horses mid-pandemic?

Those are definitely part of the reason. But it tends to undercut the argument for demographic transition, doesn’t it?

After all, the NDP didn’t even campaign much in Langley before 2020. This year, all of a sudden, the polls told them it was worth trying, and for all the doubts that it would work, lo and behold, they’re leading.

And there’s no way that’s down to demographics alone.

In 2017, Mary Polak won in Langley with about 45 per cent of the vote to 35 per cent for her NDP rival.

The current count (pre-mail-in) is almost reversed, 44 per cent for the NDP’s Andrew Mercier, 34 per cent Liberal.

There has not been that much of a demographic upheaval in Langley in just three years.

No, this vote was something else. It was people actually changing their minds.

Part of that change was about how they viewed the parties, but a lot of it is just a change in what matters. There’s COVID, sure, but in addition, Langley is more urban. It has urban problems, like homelessness, affordability, and transit. More people than ever are concerned about the climate crisis. The NDP looked like the better option – this time.

See, this is both a boon to the NDP, and a warning. Just as the voters left the Liberals, they could swing again, maybe back to the Liberals, maybe to the Greens, depending on their concerns.

If voters are up for grabs, all parties are going to have to keep up.

BC Votes 2020ColumnLangleyOpinion

Just Posted

In less than two months, there have been two break-ins at the nonprofit Langley Habitat For Humanity ReStore, which is now planning to add bars to its windows and doors (Langley Advance Times file)
Thieves target non-profit Langley City Habitat for Humanity store, again

Bars on doors and windows will be installed following second incident in less than two months

Surrey provincial court. (Black Press Media files)
Attempted Langley carjacking suspect headed back to court

His lawyer represented the suspect at his first hearing Monday

Langley Animal Protection Society will hold their annual gala Oct. 23, 2021. (Special to The Star)
Langley Animal Protection Society sets date for annual gala to help Aldergrove critters

Dreams Do Come True gala is being planned for Saturday, Oct. 23 with COVID-19 restrictions in place

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The George Massey Tunnel will be closed overnight May 28 and 29 to test the tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals. (Black Press Media file photo)
Overnight Massey Tunnel closures coming May 28, 29

Closure to allow safe testing of tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals

Dr. Euiseok Kim is the medical director of the new Abbotsford post-COVID-19 recovery clinic. (Submitted)
Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic opens in Abbotsford

New facility following model of first clinic which opened in Surrey

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

Two small dogs were also discovered by the officer, one had died, and the other was taken by animal control and sent for veterinary care with the BC SPCA. (File Photo)
Body discovered in parked van in Mission with 2 dogs, 1 dead

Remains in state of decomposure, surviving dog sent for veterinary care with BC SPCA

Most Read