For over two decades the BC political stage has been dominated by two parties: the BC Liberals and BC NDP. During the early 90s it was the NDP that saw huge success and held a majority government while the Liberals struggled to remain relevant. However, just one decade and 2 elections later the Liberals came back and claimed every seat but 2 as the NDP neared political extinction. Today, things have since returned to a somewhat normal balance that has left the NDP trailing the Liberals by an average of 14 seats in the past 3 elections. Only time will tell if the trend will continue in 2017 or if history will once again repeat itself with a political upset.
The Big Two
BC has become accustom to having 2 major political parties and as a result most voters continue to cast their ballots for one of the Big Two. In fact, so many people vote for the Big Two that all other parties combined have averaged less than 1 seat over the past 15 years.
BC Liberal Party
Leader: Christy Clark
Info: Founded in 1903, the BC Liberal Party is one of the oldest provincial parties in BC. The party has seen numerous changes over time but has remained quite popular in recent years. Despite the name, the BC Liberals have traditionally been a conservative party in terms of policy and platform. However, more recently the party has moved closer to the center in an attempt to attract more liberal voters.
BC New Democratic Party
Leader: John Horgan
Info: The BC New Democratic Party is, as one might assume, a social-democratic party that remains left of center on the political spectrum. The party was established in 1933 and has governed the province during 2 periods since inception. Since losing the 2013 election, the BC NDP have remained the Official Opposition party. What is also interesting to note is that the BC NDP is directly connected to the federal NDP party and members of the provincial party are also members of the federal party.
The Well Known Three
Despite there being just two major political parties in BC, there are dozens of officially registered parties across the province. Three of these parties may not be considered 'major' but yet are still well-known and have been well represented in recent provincial elections.
BC Green Party
Leader: Andrew Weaver
Info: The BC Green Party is a perfect example of how a minor political party can gain widespread attention and affect change despite facing huge competition. Some may be surprised to know that the BC Green Party took 30 years to win its first and only seat in the BC Legislative Assembly back in 2013 despite receiving less votes than in previous years. As the name would suggest, the party is highly focused on creating an environmentally sustainable province and believes in evidence-based decision making.
BC Conservative Party
Leader: Currently Vacant
Info: The BC Conservative Party is a right leaning party that's quite old...1903 old to be exact. For some context, that's 11 years before the start of the First World War. However, back in those days they were the best thing before sliced bread by over a decade and received close to, or more than, half the popular vote in their first 4 elections. Unfortunately, this streak didn't last too long as things started to go downhill by the early 30's and still haven't got much better today. The party hasn't won a single seat since 1975 and has gone through several leaders in the past few years. Nevertheless, some significant gains have been made in the past decade which includes receiving over 4% of the popular vote in 2013.
BC Marijuana Party
Leader: Marc Emery
Info: Quite possibly the most self-explanatory party to ever exist, the Marijuana Party advocates for the legalization of well...marijuana. Since its inception in 2000, the Marijuana Party hasn't won a seat and has instead asked its candidates to endorse the Green Party in recent elections. The party is another great example of how a minor party can gain national attention without many resources. The prosecution of party leader Marc Emery has also contributed to the party's notoriety. Emery spent several years in US prison and was released in 2014 where he returned back home to Canada. Emery continues to lead the party today but its future remains uncertain since the federal government plans on legalizing marijuana in 2017.
As previously mentioned, there are far more than just five provincial parties in BC. Unfortunately, most of the general electorate is unaware of these 'other parties' and what they offer. This is not to say that minor parties are less significant than the more well-known parties. In fact, one could argue that the 'other parties' are just as important and contribute to a healthy democratic system. After all, the very principles of democracy encourage everyone's voices to be heard and one avenue for expressing a collective view is to form a political party. It's also important to note that all major parties in existence today were once minor parties with just a handful of members that shared common goals and beliefs. These parties grew over time to become much larger than some probably thought possible which goes to show that there is nothing to say the minor parties of today won't be the major parties of tomorrow. Click here for a full list of BC parties.
Dark Horse Party of BC
After analyzing all the minor parties currently registered with Elections BC, I have chosen one party that I personally feel has the best chance of gaining real momentum in the coming years: Your Political Party of BC.
Your Political Party of BC
Leader: James Fillippelli
Info: Your Political Party, or YPP for short, was founded in 2002 by Lower Mainland resident James Fillippelli. YPP appears to have gained a loyal group of members who are dedicated to the party's success and make regular appearances at events throughout the province. According to Fillippelli, the party advocates for greater government accountability and transparency and believes in fact-based decision making. What sets the party apart from the vast majority of other minor parties in BC is that they have a full party platform with detailed proposals of what they will do if elected into office. For a full look at the YPP platform click here.