Dave Krysko’s political leanings in this provincial election don’t fit the typical B.C. electorate stereotype.
A successful business owner and entrepreneur, Krysko has publicly aligned himself with the Green Party in his Kelowna-Lake Country riding before election day May 9.
“I’m not saying that the Liberals haven’t done a few things right,” said Krysko, citing in particular the government investments made to help promote high-tech start-up growth in the Okanagan.
“But some of the bigger things they’ve been talking about, I don’t agree with.”
In particular, Krysko points to the Site C project in northeast B.C. as a personal turning point for him.
“I’m a big renewal energy, solar power fan, an area that I’ve invested in myself. I just think there is a real opportunity to do something there to benefit the environment and create jobs that we are missing out on,” he said.
Krysko’s interest in high-tech isn’t surprising given he is one of three Club Penguin co-founders, along with Lane Merrifield and Lance Priebe, an online playground for kids that grew from a start-up to a worldwide website phenomenon that attracted Disney to buy it for $350 million.
So while being a poster-child for a high-tech development movement that Premier Christy Clark has positioned the Liberals as championing, Clark doesn’t have Krysko’s vote.
But the unknown factor in this provincial election will be how many others like Krysko the Green Party can sway from the traditional base of support for both the Liberals and NDP, and what impact that will have on the election results.
The partisan right-left politics that have ruled over B.C. since the 1980s show some polling number signs of cracking.
In the last election, Green party leader Andrew Weaver was elected in Victoria’s Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding, but the party didn’t field candidates in every Okanagan-Thompson riding and those who did run never topped the nine per cent vote percentage.
This election, the party has 83 candidates nominated across B.C. including all the Okanagan-Thompson constituencies.
Bill Tieleman, a long-time participant and media pundit of B.C. politics, said the traditional problem with any third-party option in the province is maintaining support at the ballot box.
“No matter who it is, what has happened traditionally is their support gets squeezed as the election date gets closer. People start to get nervous, thinking if I vote for party three, it might allow party one or two to win, and if I don’t want one particular party to win from those options, then you tend to fall back into your traditional voting pattern,” Tieleman said.
He feels the Greens also lacks a unifying political message represented by those 83 candidates, who in some cases have migrated from other fringe parties in B.C. or have little experience in politics.
He cites the recent embarrassing revelation on a social media post of the Port Moody-Coquitlam Green Party candidate Don Barthel, who called himself ‘just a paper candidate.’
“I’m not expected to actively campaign. I’m really just there so that the B.C. Greens have someone on the ballot,” a comment that Barthel has since tried to publicly walk back by committing to actively campaigning.
Polling numbers vary, but most tend to have the NDP in front right now, followed by the Liberals and the Greens, said Tieleman.
“With regards to the Green Party, there are two ways you can tell what impact they’re having in a campaign. One is from opinion polling and the other is signals you get from how other parties are reacting to them,” he said.
While the traditional thought is the Greens will steal votes from the NDP, Tieleman said the Liberals have focused more attention their way of late, a realization that perhaps the Greens could steal votes from them as well in some Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island ridings.
Krysko says policy debates aside, he believes he’s not alone as someone who has grown disenchanted with the partisan politics of B.C.
He says there is an absence of genuine discussion about the future of the province’s economy and prospective quality of life being passed on to future generations.
“It’s about more than generating wealth. I am a successful business person because of the free enterprise system I’ve been able to work within, but a free enterprise system is not necessarily free,” Krysko said.
“Taxes are the cost we have to pay to ensure we have that freedom to do what we want. But I would rather see people who represent us, who will take our concerns to Victoria or Ottawa, and tell Victoria what should be done for us rather than Victoria telling us what they are going to do.
“There is no real dialogue between parties. More parties and more policy options I think would be really positive. If people are forced to work together to get stuff done, more collaboration would be a good thing.”
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