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June 28th, 2015

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We'll continue north over the Malahat and up the Island Highway where we left off last time, reviewing the ridings and nominated candidates in central and northern Vancouver Island. Part I of the series on Vancouver Island can be found here.

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

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

Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Candidate Party Selection Date Quick bio
Alistair MacGREGOR NDP Elected Jan 25, 2015 Jean Crowder's constituency assistant
  Cons     no names announced yet
Fran HUNT-JINNOUCHI Grn Elected Jan 30, 2015 Small businesswoman; former chief Quatsino First Nation
Marian MANNA Lib Acclaimed Mar 7, 2015 Jazz singer, debt counsellor and charity fundraiser
Paul CORTENS Lbtn      

The BC Federal Boundary Commission split the old riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan basically in half, and giving ever so slightly more of it to this new riding, which also takes in 30% of the old Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. Not only is CML a new riding, it's an open seat, given Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder's decision to retire and the fact that no sitting Members of Parliament are running here. For that reason, there has been intense interest in party nominations for every party, and not surprisingly, the Dogwood Institute picked this riding as one of its polling targets – though they perhaps unwisely took their sounding before a Conservative candidate had been selected.

Elec/Poll Cons NDP Lib Grn BQ Ind/Oth
2011 Transp 43.1% 43.6% 5.8% 7.2%   0.3%
[2015-05-09] Insights West* 28.2% 41.0% 15.4% 10.3%   5.1%
 * Small sample (n=302); results shown for decided voters only (22% und)

Six people contested the NDP nomination, which was the first to be settled, back on January 25, 2015. Jean Crowder's constituency assistant Alistair MacGregor defeated environmentalist and Shawnigan Basin Society executive director Georgia Collins who had been endorsed by both Nathan Cullen and Randall Garrison and who was a later entry to the race after the meeting was twice postponed by Ottawa. Also running were area cheesemaker Hilary Abbott, Cowichan Valley Regional District director Ian Morrison, Nanaimo-Duncan labour council president and former school trustee Ellen Oxman, and party activist and organizer Nick Wade. 488 votes were cast in the balloting.

Five days later small business woman and the former Quatsino First Nation chief Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi defeated Cowichan area farmer Dan Ferguson for the Green Party nomination. Around 70 people attended the nomination meetings, according to Twitter reports. And a little over a month after that, the Liberals acclaimed jazz singer, charity fundraiser and debt counsellor Maria Manna on March 7, which leaves only the Conservatives without a candidate or a scheduled nomination contest.

There are three candidates in that race, however. The first is John Koury, a former aide to Keith Martin who then ran against him as the Conservative candidate after Martin switched to the Liberals in 2004, placing third after Martin and the NDP's Randall Garrison. Koury then served two terms municipally in North Cowichan punctuated by a federal run in 2011, where he placed second to Jean Crowder, and then ran unsuccessfully for the North Cowican mayoralty last year. Also originally in the federal Conservative contest was another North Cowichan mayoralty candidate, entrepreneur Damir Wallener, who ran provincially for the BC Conservatives in 2013, however he has since withdrawn. Still in the race is veterinarian chiropractor Martin Barker, in his third term municipally a former two-term muicipal councillor in Duncan, but who lost the 2011 federal Conservative nomination to Koury. The two remaining contestants were joined more recently by a special education teacher at Duncan's christian school, Jeremy Smyth, who represented the fundamentalist christian Freedom Party provincially in 2005, and made an earlier municipal bid in the Fraser Valley.

No date has been set as yet for the Conservative nomination, which is the target of persistent speculation that a higher profile candidate is being sought.

Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Candidate Party Selection Date Quick bio
Sheila MALCOLMSON NDP Elected Oct 5, 2014 Energy policy expert; 4-term Islands Trustee, 2 terms as Chair
Mark MacDONALD Cons Acclaimed Sept 25, 2014 Managing editor of the Nanaimo Daily News
Paul MANLY Grn Acclaimed Jan 12, 2015 Documentary film-maker, son of former NDP MP Jim Manly
Tim TESSIER Lib Acclaimed Mar 29, 2015 Business consultant

The rest of the old riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan was joined with 45% of the old Nanaimo-Alberni to create a new all-east island constituency. The transposed results from 2011 show a party vote for the NDP just 5 points ahead of the Conservatives, with the Liberals and Greens trailing below 10% each. Given the shifts in the provincial and Vancouver Island polls since then, the NDP should have been expected to call this an easy pickup, but they did make it a bit harder for themselves with the fallout from a competitive nomination contest this time last year.

The disqualification of activist and documentary filmmaker Paul Manly by the NDP for comments he had made about Mulcair, Crowder and Libby Davies in a Vancouver Sun interview from 2012 when his father, former NDP MP Jim Manly, was detained overseas for his participation in a flotilla destined for the Gaza strip, blew up in the media at the same time as renewed tensions in the Middle East hit the top of the news. A second contestant – a one-time supporter of Vancouver Island provincial status, and provincial NDP staffer – was also disqualified, but his wife entered the race instead. By the fall, the 5 remaining contestants went on to a vote, which was convincingly won by Sheila Malcolmson, an energy policy expert who had served four terms on the Islands Trust (municipal-like government for the Gulf Islands), eventually serving as its Chair (mayor-like role). Also running were lawyer and professor Dominique Roelants, Natasha Bob from the Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose) First Nation who worked in child and family services, former president of the Nanaimo Teachers' Association Kip Wood, and nurse Jackie Moad. Malcolmson scored 339 votes on the final ballot to Roelants' 217.

Watching all this from the sidelines were the Conservatives, who the week before had acclaimed Mark MacDonald, managing editor of the Nanaimo Daily News, and of course Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who invited Paul Manly to make a film documentary about a party event and then recruited him as her star candidate, revealed in a high profile news conference around the same time as Jo-Ann Roberts in Victoria. Manly was acclaimed in January, as was business consultant Tim Tessier for the Liberals at the end of March.

Back to the expected contest in this riding, while the Greens claim to have targeted every seat on the Island, from what we know of their Island-wide support in the May Insights West poll, and subtracting Liz May's own vote-share and the known Insights West/Dogwood riding poll results for the Greens, it's hard to see them competitive in any of the other Island seats at current levels of support. If their leader's support in Saanich-Gulf Islands grew from 2011 levels of 46.4% to a reasonable 50%, and the other three Dogwood-polled ridings came in at the stated levels, and given the overall Island-wide party vote-share sat at 20%, then even if every other Green vote were found in only one riding – for example Victoria, which we know the party is already targeting, and whose demographics better fit the profile of a potential Green voter – then neither Nanaimo-Ladysmith nor North Island-Powell River would be in the cards for them. In fact, with Ms. May at an assumed 50% level of support and Victoria at an assumed 25% vote-share, that puts the rest of the Island ridings at between 10%-15% each. To win more than just the one seat on the Island, then, the Greens would have to be polling at least 8-10 points higher on the Island, and have more of that support concentrated in its strongest non-incumbent seats. The fact that, to date, those seats are held by the NDP might help if, or once, the NDP was seen as being able to sweep the country, but absent that unlikely prospect, Green voters being more susceptible than others to "stop Harper" tactical voting pitches, it will be a taller order than if they were fighting a Conservative like May did in 2011.

Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Candidate Party Selection Date Quick bio
John DUNCAN Cons x-Elected July 18, 2014 Chief government whip & former aboriginal affairs minister; Sitting MP; former Ucluelet town councillor; worked in the forest industry
Gord JOHNS NDP Elected Oct 19, 2014 Executive director Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, former Tofino town councillor
Glenn SOLLITT Grn Acclaimed Oct 7, 2014 Owner of a seafood distribution company
Carrie POWELL-DAVIDSON Lib Acclaimed Oct 23, 2014 Former 2-term Parksville town councillor
Troy DEGERNESS Lbtn      

We continue up the Island Highway, veering west "over the hump" on the Pacific Rim Highway, through Cathedral Grove into Port Alberni and out to Tofino, Ucluelet and Ahousaht in Nuu-chah-nulth territory on the west coast, doubling back and up through Cumberland to Courtenay, and taking in Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Bowser, and Fanny Bay along with Denman and Hornby Islands. Do I know the geography of this riding well? Oh yes I do — and I love it. This riding takes in the greater portion of the old Nanaimo-Alberni (60% of it), along with 29% of the old Vancouver Island North, to make a riding that straddles both sides of the island, and more closely resembles the last configuration the NDP had won it in (Comox-Alberni).

Elec/Poll Cons NDP Lib Grn BQ Ind/Oth
2011 Transp 44.9% 40.7% 6.7% 6.8%   0.3%
[2015-05-09] Insights West* 29.5% 42.3% 14.1% 11.5%   2.6%
 * Small sample (n=301); results shown for decided voters only (23% und)

In order for nominations to get underway on the Conservative side, two decisions had to be made. First, Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney had to decide that he would not re-offer for a sixth term in office, which he announced in October 2013 — not long after criticizing his own government for its cutbacks to BC Coast Guard stations. Then, Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan had to decide both that he would run again, and that he would do so in the more southerm of the two seats his riding was being split into, and one he had some earlier connection with when he worked for M&B and sat on the Ucluelet town council. He made his announcement in May, after having moved his constituency office out of Courtenay and up into Campbell River in January, conveniently leaving his policy advisor Laura Smith to run in the new North Island-Powell River seat. (see below)

As a loyal cabinet minister and chief government whip Duncan might have been afforded an acclamation, but for the ambition of Errington financial services rep Patrick Chenier, who had earlier launched an aborted one-week nomination bid for the BC Liberal nomination against Michelle Stilwell in late 2012, that he ended only after admitting he had been a party member for just 3 weeks and being unable to name a single issue he could "align with". By June of 2014 he was ready to challenge Duncan for the federal nomination as a candidate of "renewal". Duncan dispatched Chenier pretty decisively the next month, however, though no specific vote counts or attendance figures were reported.

For the NDP, while the new boundaries mostly mirrored the last version of the riding they had held, it also revisited the old friendly rivalry between the Comox Valley membership and the Alberni Valley and west coast members, as 2011 Vancouver Island North candidate and three-term Courtenay municipal councillor Ronna Rae Leonard was challenged by Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce executive director and former Tofino town councillor Gord Johns for the nomination. The race got started with their announcements in September and concluded on October 14, with 340 people voting in a result the riding association described as "close" and I'm told was a margin of 20 or so votes.

Two weeks earlier, the Greens had acclaimed the owner of a seafood distribution company Glenn Sollitt, and the following week, the Liberals acclaimed two-term Parksville town councillor Carrie Powell-Davidson.

James Lunney has mainly been in the sights of eastern progressives for his views on abortion, equal marriage and evolution; but his willingness to go public with criticisms of the governments cuts to Coast Guard stations on the west coast was prescient. In particular, the closure of the station in Kitsilano serving Vancouver harbour is now being widely blamed for the allegedly slow federal response time to the recent oil spill threatening the Vancouver shoreline. Given the environmental concerns over pipelines and oil tanker traffic, the closure of that station came to symbolize the Conservative government for many British Columbians looking for change, and it can't have been comfortable for BC's senior minister to defend.

But Lunney also carried on a different tradition in that riding: of hypocrisy around MPs' pensions. In 1993 the Reform Party's Bill Gilmore defeated the NDP's Bob Skelly in part via an attack on his eligibility for an MP's pension if re-elected. In 2000, James Lunney defeated Bill Gilmore for the Canadian Alliance nomination by attacking Gilmore for changing his mind and accepting the MPs pension after all, contrary to the policy of the Reform Party. Now Lunney's retiring, under the grandfathered pension rules. For myself, I don't begrudge a pension to our elected Members of Parliament, who have to exist in an often very unstable employment situation while running, serving, and after losing; and frankly pensioning them off is better than worrying about the influence and motives of those offering to take care of them after leaving public office. But jumping on a populist bandwagon and winning election by running against the pension plan, and then buying into it anyway, only fuels public cyncism, especially when the people doing it have been responsible for trying to dismantle and undermine everyone else's pensions. So please stop doing that, everyone. Thank you.

North Island—Powell River, BC

Candidate Party Selection Date Quick bio
Laura SMITH Cons Acclaimed Feb 19, 2015 Senior policy advisor to John Duncan
Rachel BLANEY NDP Elected Nov 22, 2014 Immigrant services NGO executive director
Peter SCHWARZHOFF Lib Acclaimed July 24, 2015 Retired Environment Canada meteorologist; former RCAF officer
Brenda SAYERS Grn Acclaimed May 24, 2015 Member of the Hupacasath First Nation; former director of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council

The northernmost seat on Vancouver Island also now stretches across the Georgia Straight to take in the coastal town of Powell River, reminiscent of the older riding by the same name, but this time including Comox and Lazo from the Comox Valley as well as Campbell River and points north (including Port Alice!). It gets 71% of the old Vancouver Island North, and 14% of the old West Vancouver-mouthful on the mainland, mainly because Vancouver Island had enough population for 6.5 seats and the North Shore of Vancouver had enough for 2.5 seats, while Vancouver's population won them an even 6.

The Liberals acclaimed one-time RCAF officer and 30-year Environment Canada meteorologist and air quality specialist Peter Schwarzhoff back in July of 2014. Then the outgoing national president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union (CEP), Dave Coles, retired after the merger with CAW to form Unifor, and moved back home to the coast in part to seek the NDP nomination here. However he was challenged by immigrant services NGO executive director Rachel Blaney, who prevailed in the November 22, 2014 vote of around 500 members.

John Duncan senior policy advisor Laura Smith declared for the nomination in May of 2014 around the same time Duncan announced his own plans in the wake of the late Jim Flaherty's sudden passing. However, the party did not confirm her as acclaimed until February of 2015. Like Duncan she has lived in many parts of the riding, working in the forestry sector before coming to Ottawa, and serving as a Search and Rescue volunteer.

Green Party candidate Brenda Sayers of the Hupacasath First Nation joined the frey a month ago, when she was acclaimed on May 25, 2015 June 5, 2015 (according to the party's report to Elections Canada).

The riding transposed to a narrow Conservative win of 2011 results on the new boundaries, and its predecessor went back and forth between the Conservatives and NDP over the last few elections. It has new boundaries and brand new candidates, and should be considered a Conservative-NDP riding to watch, along frankly with all four of the central and northern Vancouver island seats.


We'll move on to the North Shore next time, but first we'll continue some of the informal "counts" and add a few new ones:

Fun thing to track Cons NDP Lib Grn BQ Ind/Oth
"Media Party" Lukens
  Kane Roberts
Lawyers   Rankin Merner May    
Former Federal Candidates (Koury,
if he wins)
Previous Federal Nomination Contestant (Barker,
if he wins)
Former Provincial Candidates (Smyth,
if he wins)
Former Municipal Councillors Lukens
if he wins)
Former Municipal Candidates (Smyth,
if he wins)
Former School Board Candidates Rizzuti          
Professors   Rankin
Blaney Thomas      
Teachers Rizzuto          
Party Activists     Merner
Blaney Thomas
Former Political Staffers (Koury,
if he wins)
"All in the [Political] Family"       Manly    
"Born in the USA"   Garrison   May    
Musicians     Manna      
Federal Public Servants / Retirees     Merner
Retired Military / Veterans     Schwarzhoff      


2 Responses to “UPDATED: Candidate Drilldown: Vancouver Island Part II”

  1. m coleman says:

    Some factual errors re Conservative hopeful Martin Barker for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford: he is not in his third municipal term, having been defeated; and he is not a veterinarian, but a chiropractor.

  2. Sorry if I messed that up, and thanks for taking the time to correct the record.

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