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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.

Elec/Poll Cons NDP Lib Grn BQ Ind/Oth
  British Columbia – All
2011 GE – May 2, 2011 45.6% 32.5% 13.4% 7.7%   0.8%
[2015-06-16] Ekos 23.0% 37.3% 23.2% 14.1%   2.5%
[2015-06-16] Forum 27% 39% 24% 8%   1%
[2015-06-07] Angus Reid 30% 38% 23% 9%   1%
[2015-05-31] Abacus 31% 25% 28% 14%   2%
[2015-05-29] Ipsos 28% 34% 31% –>   7%
[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

Victoria, BC

Candidate Party Selection Date Quick bio
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
Art LOWE Lbtn      

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.

Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Candidate Party Selection Date Quick bio
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
Meghan PORTER Lbtn      

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.

Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Candidate Party Selection Date Quick bio
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
Josh STEFFLER Lbtn      

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.

Elec/Poll Cons NDP Lib Grn BQ Ind/Oth
  Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke
2011 Transp 37.6% 39.4% 9.7% 12.9%   0.4%
[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.

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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
"Media Party" Lukens   Kane Roberts
Litman
   
Lawyers   Rankin Merner May    
Former Municipal Councillors Lukens Garrison        
Former School Board Candidates Rizzuti          
Professors   Rankin
Garrison
Blaney Thomas      
Teachers Rizzuto          
Party Activists     Merner
Blaney Thomas
     
Former Political Staffers   Garrison   May    
Born in the USA   Garrison   May    

 


4 Responses to “UPDATED: Candidate Drilldown: Vancouver Island Part I”

  1. Ron says:

    Both of the NDP MPs – Rankin and Garrison – have been given key shadow cabinet roles and therefore considerable media coverage.
    Rankin originally, as National Revenue shadow, exposed the weak Conservative approach to pursuing those with off-shore tax havens and then became Health shadow – and the growing issue of significantly decreased federal Health funding transfers.
    Garrison played a key role in critiquing Harper’s terror bill, C-51.
    Rightly or wrongly the feeling is that the Green candidate in Victoria is weaker than Prof. Galloway and that the Green candidate in Esquimalt – like Liberals and Conservatives in both ridings pose – little threat.
    Growing concern of some Greens across Canada appears to be that they will receive little aid – except in Hyer’s Ontario riding – as considerable resources are poured into the south Island.

  2. Plato says:

    A point of clarification: Keith Martin never “crossed” [the floor] or “bolt for the Liberals”. After the right merged, he decided not to join the new Conservative Party given the ideological disconnects between him and that party. He sat as an independent for the remainder of the session and sought the Liberal nomination and thus sought a new mandate from his electorate to be their MP as a Liberal for the 2004 Federal election.

  3. That’s a useful elaboration, Plato. Dr. Martin was a member of the Conservative caucus for three weeks, however, according to the official records of the House of Commons – between December 23, 2003 and January 13, 2004:

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members/Keith-Martin%281441%29/Roles

    His switch to the Liberals was finalized by February 23, 2004, the date on which he was acclaimed the Liberal candidate. If you were sitting in the Conservative caucus, you would have viewed that as “bolting”. If you were sitting in Dr. Martin’s shoes you might have picked a different word, but I maintain that it was perfectly fair comment for me to write “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.”

    Also, I didn’t write that he has “crossed the floor” to the Liberals, only that he had “crossed” to them. That would be the vernacular, and quite a reasonable way to describe his change in party affiliation. I agree that Dr. Martin chose the correct way to change party affiliation, namely to sit as an Independent for the remainder of the outgoing Parliament, and seek his new party’s nomination, and he should be commended for that. The point of today’s shorter precis of his political career was to demonstrate how much and why the Conservatives coveted the seat, and how a strong candidate’s support can transcend traditional voting patterns.

    Thanks for your comments, and thanks for reading.

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