OUR VIEW: The nation's eyes may be on Burnaby

All eyes, it seems, may well be on Burnaby come federal election night.

If the local parties concerned are to be believed, the newly drawn riding of Burnaby North-Seymour may well be one of the nation’s horse races.

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Let’s be clear up front. We’re more than a little skeptical of the numbers involved – we tend to distrust internal party polling, and the numbers being bandied about by the Liberals are seven months old (which, in political terms, might well be several lifetimes ago).

But the principle behind them is nonetheless intriguing.

There was certainly a time, not so long ago, when no one would have much questioned what the voters of Burnaby North would do. (Does the name “Svend Robinson” ring any bells?)

But now, thanks to a riding boundary shakeup, we have the traditionally leftist territory of Burnaby joining forces with the traditionally right-of-centre North Shore – which pretty much makes this one an “anything goes” situation.

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that every single candidate in the riding is new, since the city’s New Democrat incumbents are running elsewhere (Kennedy Stewart in Burnaby South and Peter Julian in New Westminster-Burnaby). Not to mention the fact that the federal landscape has changed rather significantly since the last election, when the late Jack Layton led his NDP to an unprecedented “Orange Crush” and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff went down to inglorious defeat. Replace those two leaders with Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, respectively, and you’ve just shaken up the picture a whole lot more.

But what will this all mean for Burnaby? Whoever wins, we at least hope that the possibility of a three- or four-horse race may motivate people to get to the polls.

Too often, it seems, voters can become apathetic when the outcome seems foreordained. Maybe, just maybe, the thought that this riding is anyone’s to win will motivate voters to turn out in record numbers. And maybe, just maybe, a higher voter turnout will result in a government that’s more representative of the popular opinions of Canadians than the existing Parliamentary imbalance.

We can only live in hope.

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