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June 25th, 2015
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The seven seats on Vancouver Island are key to both the Conservative and NDP paths to victory, and have been a key regional concentration of Green Party support. Recently some of its ridings were the focus of publicly-released opinion polls from an activist group. The Island gained a seat during the redistribution, and is home to the provincial capital of Victoria in the south and some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. What better place, then, to start a west-to-east series of deep dives into the nomination races and candidates leading into this fall's 42nd federal general election.
[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]
UPDATE: I've added Randall Garrison to another category in the Fun Things to Track table below under Former Municipal Councillor, as he was elected to a three-year term on the Esquimalt City Council in 2008. When looking that up, I also realized that he was born in Nebraska, which made me think "Born in the USA" might make another good category to track, so I'm adding him and Elizabeth May under that heading as well.
FURTHER UPDATE: Cheryl Blaney Thomas won the Liberal nomination in Victoria.
|British Columbia – All|
|2011 GE – May 2, 2011||45.6%||32.5%||13.4%||7.7%||0.8%|
|[2015-06-07] Angus Reid||30%||38%||23%||9%||1%|
|[2015-05-09] Insights West||29%||35%||25%||10%||2%|
|BC – Vancouver Island|
|2011 GE – May 2, 2011||38.4%||38.5%||7.9%||14.9%||0.4%|
|[2015-05-09] Insights West||14%||47%||19%||20%||0%|
|Seats (2011 Tr)||2||4||1|
|2nd place finishes (2011 Tr)||5||2||1|
|Nominated (2015 GE)||5||6||6 (+1)||7||5|
|Murray RANKIN||NDP||x-Acclaimed||Nov 22, 2014||Sitting MP; Aboriginal right lawyer, former prov treaty negotiator|
|Jo-Ann ROBERTS||Grn||Acclaimed||Jan 20, 2015||CBC Radio Victoria morning show host|
|John RIZZUTI||Cons||Acclaimed||Feb 12, 2015||Retired school principal; former school board candidate|
|Cheryl Blaney THOMAS||Lib||Elected||July 4, 2015||Business woman; longtime local Liberal activist|
At the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island is the seat of the provincial government, and Mile 0 of any cross-Canada trek. The riding is one of the few nationally that did not change boundaries in the redistribution. New Democrat Denise Savoie regained the seat from the Liberals in 2006 when former Environment Minister David Anderson retired from politics, after former mayor David Turner fell shy by 4 points in 2004. When Savoie in turn retired, a hotly-contested by-election race ensued between aboriginal rights lawyer and provincial treaty negotiator Murray Rankin, and the upstart and hungry Green Party eager for a second seat with their candidate Donald Galloway, who was on the law faculty at U Vic. Rankin narrowly won that 2012 by-election by just under 3 points.
For the current election, he was the first candidate to be confirmed in Victoria riding, via acclamation at a November 22, 2014 nomination meeting. Then former CBC Radio Victoria morning show host Jo-Ann Roberts was acclaimed as the Green Party candidate quietly on January 20, 2015, followed by a news conference with leader Elizabeth May to announce her candidacy on January 24.
The Conservatives quietly installed retired school principal and former school board candidate John Rizzuti on February 12, 2015 after nominations closed with a single contestant. The Liberals have been talking about holding a nomination meeting since late February, but have finally set a date for July 4, featuring a contest between U Vic economics student and former CFAX news radio announcer Adam Stirling and business woman and long-time local Liberal activist Cheryl Blaney Thomas.
Apart from May's neighbouring seat of Saanich – Gulf Islands, BC and fellow caucus member Bruce Hyer's northwestern Ontairo riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON, Victoria is being described by local Greens as their top priority non-incumbent target, and party president Dave Bagler says they'll be going after the NDP there "with all we've got".
Had the Greens been able to win the November 2012 by-election, they would have had the incumbency advantage going in to October's general election. In growing their vote-share from a previous high of 11.6% (which co-existed with the NDP's own high of 50.8%) in 2011, to 34.3% in the by-election, the party nearly doubled its raw vote to 13,400. Their 22.7 point gain came from the NDP (-13.6), Conservatives (-9.1) and Liberals (-0.9), with the Libertarian picking up half a point. Those gains were made on a compelling argument: "the results of this by-election won't change the government, but they give you a chance to send a message, and give Elizabeth May someone to second her motions in the House". (Bruce Hyer had not yet officially crossed the floor.) While the party has developed considerable riding infrastructure and experienced campaign operatives there now, they will have to find a different narrative in order to defeat NDP incumbent Murray Rankin in a general election, especially in the face of all the national campaigns. Also, in a general election we can expect to see the Liberal and Conservative vote shares reclaim some of the contrarian ballots cast for the Greens in the by-election, though no-one expects either party to contend seriously for the win here now.
|Elizabeth MAY||Grn||x-Acclaimed||Sept 9, 2014||Party leader; Sitting MP; environmental lawyer & activist|
|Cons||no names announced yet|
|NDP||no names announced yet|
|Tim KANE||Lib||Acclaimed||Feb 14, 2015||Co-owner of Delta Media|
Directly north of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula and neighbouring islands is the riding won by the Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, in the last election. For a longer look at that effort, read back to my post "Elizabeth May’s Big Green Gamble Pays Off". May herself was acclaimed for another bid back on September 9, 2014, and her only confirmed challenger to date will be well familiar to older Ottawa denizens as the co-owner of Delta Media who retired to the left coast, Tim Kane. He was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate on Valentine's Day earlier this year. Rumours persist that the Conservatives are trying to talk former M.P. Gary Lunn into a comeback bid, and last I heard the NDP had met with a prospective candidate, but no announcements are forthcoming from either camp.
Spirited Liberal opposition notwithstanding, no-one seriously expects May to lose this seat, though if she plans to aggressively target neighbouring incumbents, they may be less willing to take a hands-off approach to her here. We'll have to wait to assess the threat level until all the candidates are known, though, which doesn't seem like it's going to happen any time soon.
|Randall GARRISON||NDP||x-Acclaimed||Oct 18, 2014||Sitting MP; Camosun college criminal justice instructor; 3-term Esquimalt city councillor|
|Shari LUKENS||Cons||Acclaimed||Feb 5, 2015||Former CTV regional anchor and skating coach; 1-term Colwood city councillor|
|Frances LITMAN||Grn||Elected||Feb 4, 2015||Former Times-Colonist photographer|
|David MERNER||Lib||Elected||Mar 2, 2015||Justice dept lawyer; former LeadNow board member; former fed Liberal leadership candidate|
Spreading west and northwest of Victoria is the other riding in the Capital Regional District, currently represented by first-term NDP MP Randall Garrison. It takes in just over three-quarters of the old Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding, added to just over 10% of the old Saanich-Gulf Islands. The Conservatives had coveted Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca ever since former Reformer-turned Canadian Alliance MP Keith Martin bolted for the Liberals ahead of the 2004 election.
Keith Martin should be pulled out as the counterpoint example every time a political science expert claims local candidates make no difference to vote-shares in a riding. When he crossed to the Liberals in 2004, the combined conservative vote-share of nearly 58% in 2000 dropped to less than half for the united Conservative Party – just 24%. Meanwhile, he grew the Liberal vote-share concomitant with a comparable growth in the NDP's take, both at the expense of former PC and Canadian Alliance voters, turning the riding into a perennial three-way race until Martin's retirement for politics in 2011. Seat projectors continued to call the race for the Liberals in that election, right up until enough badgering produced a riding-specific poll late in the race showing Garrison and not the Liberal as the main competition for the Conservatives. It was never a "Liberal" vote in that seat: it was support for a strong incumbent who had adopted that party. Once he left, the riding dissolved into a close two-way race, with the Liberals falling back into an uncompetitive third place.
|[2015-05-09] Insights West*||16.7%||50%||14.3%||15.5%||3.6%|
|* Small sample (n=301); results shown for decided voters only (16% und)|
One other unknown with the redistribution here is whether the 2011 Green-voting polls being moved into the new riding boundaries from neighbouring Saanich-Gulf Islands would portend greater growth potential for the Greens here as well, or whether they would give way to an Assimilation Effect and adopt voting behaviours consistent with the new riding's contest instead. The Insights West riding poll commissioned by the Dogwood Institute in May seems to suggest the latter.
Speaking of candidates, incumbent NDP MP Randall Garrison was renominated by acclamation last October 18, 2014. Then in February, former Times-Colonist photog Frances Litman defeated Dave Hodgins, a former fire chief, provincial ADM, and one-term Esquimalt municipal councillor for the Green Party nod. Hodgins had previously run unsuccessfully for the Liberal nomination in 2011. By March, former one-term Colwood municipal councillor, skating coach and one-time CTV anchor Shari Lukens outlasted her two aspiring competitors, lawyers David Busch and William Robertson, to be acclaimed the Conservative candidate. And two weeks later, Justice Department lawyer and former federal Liberal leadership contender David Merner, a then-member of the LeadNow.ca board who dropped out of the leadership race to back Joyce Murray's campaign for "cooperation", defeated Luke Krayenhoff, president of Langham Court Theatre, to represent the red team.
We'll pick up with the rest of Vancouver Island next time, but first we'll start some of the informal "counts":
|Fun thing to track||Cons||NDP||Lib||Grn||BQ||Ind/Oth|
|Former Municipal Councillors||Lukens||Garrison|
|Former School Board Candidates||Rizzuti|
|Former Political Staffers||Garrison||May|
|Born in the USA||Garrison||May|