Citizens will be forgiven for thinking the 2013 B.C. election campaign is underway given the uptick in recent politicking on a whole host of subjects.
The official campaign runs April 16 until the vote on May 14.
Here in Chilliwack, and elsewhere, candidates are already unofficially on the hustings.
As John Les retires, the Chilliwack riding sees a face off between UFV criminologist and former BC Conservative (BCCP) candidate John Martin for the BC Liberals, former Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce executive director Patti MacAhonic for the NDP and onetime city council candidate Chad Eros for the BCCP.
In Chilliwack-Hope, NDP MLA Gwen O'Mahony will again face Liberal hopeful Laurie Throness, whom she defeated in the 2012 byelection. They'll be challenged by local realtor Michael Henshall for the BCCP.
As the Liberals attempt to crawl out from under the ethnic voting email scandal, the party trails 16 points in the polls. Most pundits say this points to an NDP government led by Adrian Dix on May 14.
But Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Hope do not represent the entire province. Things here are a little different, a little more conservative than the rest of the province.
A few topics of interest of late:
Throness issued a press release on Feb. 27 calling on O'Mahony to declare support for the province's liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. He focused on local businesses-IMW, Tycrop and Britco-that directly and indirectly are connected to LNG extraction.
"At least 1,000 well-paying, highly-skilled jobs in Chilliwack and Agassiz depend directly on the natural gas industry," Thron-ess said, adding that O'Mahony and the NDP have not put forward "unequivocal" support for LNG as the Libs have.
In an earlier chat about the Speech from the Throne, O'Mahony told me the Liberals' reliance on 30-year revenue forecasts is unwise and unrealistic.
"We are not against natural gas," she said. "The issue is putting all your eggs in one basket."
O'Mahony also faced some criticism for not appearing at Fraser Health's recent meeting in Chilliwack to discuss water chlorination.
Les came from Victoria to be at the meeting and spoke vociferously against chlorination.
O'Mahony said she didn't want to politicize the matter "the way Mr. Les does," and said she wanted to find out what was safest for the community before taking a stand.
All six local candidates and some of their supporters have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, where more and more fleeting "conversations" and debates happen.
Things took a slightly nasty turn in late February as former BCCP candidate and now-Liberal supporter Ben Besler took aim at Eros and his large, young family.
Besler: "So your plan is to leave your wife to care for 9 kids alone while you have sights on Victoria?"
Eros: "And that folks is how to earn an unfollow and nuke a bridge. Insult a man's commitment to his wife and kids."
Besler: "Where is the insult? I Don't think you understand the duties and commitments of an MLA?"
Eventually Chilliwack Liberal riding association president Collin Rogers piped up: "Unnecessary to get personal about [Chad's] family vs career choices (up to him). Chad is a good dad. Won't be MLA anyway."
Some other stuff:
Henshall was with BCCP leader John Cummins on March 5 to release his party's "budget and fiscal framework."
On Feb. 28, MacAhonic hosted a women-who-make-a-difference event with former NDP leader Carole James and local author and cancer survivor Glenda Standeven.
And later this month, Martin, a competitive barbecue pitmaster, and his team will take part in the second annual Big Red Barn Burner BBQ Competition. I'm told there will be liberal (Liberal?) portions, a little pulled pork-barrel politics and, maybe, the former Christy-Clark-critizing-Conservative might even eat a little crow.