British Columbia ruling Liberals set to win election: polling group

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - British Columbia’s ruling Liberal Party is poised to win a general election in the Western Canadian province on Tuesday thanks to late gains, a polling group said on the eve of the vote, as its final survey showed the party tied with the opposition New Democrats.

British Columbia's New Democratic Party (NDP) leader John Horgan greets supporters during a campaign stop at a hotel in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ben Nelms

The party, which is not linked to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberal Party, has governed the province for 16 years.

Just two weeks ago the right-of-center British Columbia Liberals were trailing the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) by nearly 10 percentage points.

Monday’s Mainstreet/Postmedia poll, which surveyed respondents on May 5 and 6, showed 39 percent of decided and leaning voters would back the Liberals, 40 percent the NDP, and 20 percent the B.C. Green Party.

“Our final poll finds the NDP and Liberals in a dead heat -- but despite the statistical tie in support, we’re expecting a Liberal majority government on Tuesday night,” Quito Maggi, President of Ottawa-based Mainstreet Research said in a statement on Monday.

The polling group’s survey showed more Liberal voters strongly supported the party while more NDP supporters said they might still change their minds.

That would replicate the outcome of the previous election in 2013, when polls had predicted the NDP would win by a wide margin.

In a final day campaigning, British Columbia premier and Liberal leader Christy Clark crisscrossed the south of the province urging voters to “choose hope, not despair” as she focused on her party’s economic track record.

British Columbia led Canada’s other provinces in economic growth in 2015 and is forecast to have repeated this in 2016 while also producing five consecutive balanced budgets.

Meanwhile NDP leader John Horgan campaigned in the populous Vancouver suburb of Surrey, repeating a platform promise to introduce C$10-a-day childcare and pledging to build a second hospital in the area.

Mainstreet is one of only a handful of groups doing polls in this election, with several having stepped back from compiling regular surveys after calling the 2013 result so wrong, which some blamed on unpredictability linked to the province’s low voter turnout.

The province’s most widely read newspapers, the Vancouver Sun and The Province, as well as the national Globe and Mail, all endorsed the Liberals in weekend editorials.

“It looks as though the NDP are facing a disappointing finish and will need to reassess what to do in the future,” Maggi said.

Reporting by Nicole Mordant; Editing by John Stonestreet and Sandra Maler