Kamloops This Week
When Ed Klop left B.C. for Alberta in 2000, he said he would never move back to his home province if the NDP was in power.
If the polls prove to be correct, Klop may have to eat those words on May 14.
Should that be the case, the Sorrento-based businessman is hoping he will at least be dining as a member of the opposition.
Klop has a few odds stacked against him.
In the Kamloops-North Thompson riding with an incumbent Liberal cabinet minister and an NDP challenger who has been on the campaign trail since 2011, Klop is a relative unknown — and one who stepped into the race a few days before the writ drop to replace Barriere resident Ed Fehr.
Besides that, Klop’s Conservative party remains behind in the polls provincially, trailing the Liberals and NDP.
However, after spending a decade in Alberta, Klop has one word with which to chase away the doubters: Wildrose.
Klop ran once for the upstart right-wing party and once for its predecessor, the Alberta Alliance.
Both times he was ahead of the curve, picking up 18 per cent of the vote in his best showing.
But, two years after he left, the party broke through. Pollsters predicted Wildrose would form Alberta’s next government, toppling a long-running Tory dynasty.
That didn’t happen, but the party now sits as the official opposition and Klop’s eyes light up when he predicts what voters will do to Alberta Premier Alison Redford in the next election (vote her out, with extreme prejudice).
It’s a story Klop thinks the Conservatives can repeat in B.C. — with John Cummins standing in for Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith.
Klop will also have to combat Liberal candidate Terry Lake’s argument that a Conservative vote is a wasted vote.
Lake, who narrowly held onto his seat in 2009, has accused Klop’s party of splitting the vote.
In a riding like Kamloops-North Thompson, the argument goes, a strong Conservative showing could siphon off just enough Liberal votes to ensure an NDP victory.
Klop, who proudly states he’s never cast a ballot for the Liberals or NDP, says such an argument is not fair.
“If the polls are correct, the NDP are winning a government whether we run or not. So, what should we do, just sit here and say, ‘Sorry folks, there’s no other alternative but B.C. Liberal or the NDP?’” he says.
“Don’t vote Liberal then. Don’t be silly and vote Liberal. Vote for us if you’re worried about splitting.”