Sunday, August 16, 2009

Better Know a Riding - Saanich Gulf Islands

Welcome to part 3 of my 308 part series, Better Know A Riding. Today, Saanich-Gulf Islands. The fighting Islands!

This Vancouver Island riding borders the University of Victoria, famous not just for its large rabbit population, but also its ability to produce Harper Cabinet Ministers - alumni include Stockwell Day, Gary Lunn, and Rona Ambrose (she is still in Cabinet, right?).

The riding is also home to Cadboro Bay, home of the mythical "Cadborosaurus" sea monster (well, according to wikipedia anyways) - so I suppose some residents will believe electing a Green MP is possible.

Gary Lunn (CPC) 43%
Briony Penn (Lib) 39%
Andrew Lewis (Green) 11%
Julian West (NDP) 6%


Elizabeth May

May got her first taste of politics in 1980, when she ran as part of an 11-candidate slate for "The Small Party" (if the Dippers are still thinking name change...), with May finishing fourth in a four person race with 272 votes.

Her second go around in politics would be (slightly) more successful, losing to Glen Pearson in a 2006 London by election, and to Peter MacKay in Central Nova last election. Following this, May boldly changed tactics, breaking from Green Party tradition and trying to actually win a seat in the next election.

Gary Lunn

Gary Lunn (pictured above with colleague John Baird), was first elected as an MP in 1997, and subsequently has sat in parliament for the Reform Party, Democratic Representative Caucus, Canadian Alliance, and Conservative Party.

He served as Minister of Natural Resources in the Harper government, fired Linda Keen, and was subsequently "promoted" to Secretary of State for Sports. In Natural Resources, Lunn had to decide whether or not to shut down nuclear power plants. In his new job, he has had to make equally important decisions such as "should Canadian athletes be forced to wear seal skins?".

As an MP, Gary distributes the "Lunn Report", something he calls "an invaluable tool for communicating with [his] constituents" - the most recent invaluable edition is from July 2008. In it, Lunn says "As for elections, I would prefer to govern until the fixed election date in October 2009".

The Liberals

The Liberal nomination meeting has been called for September 12th, with 2 candidates vying for what has suddenly become a much less coveted prize:

Renée Hetherington PhD - Research scientist, author and businesswoman

Kit (Christopher) Spence - Entrepreneur and international democratic development expert


You may recall the last NDP candidate dropped out after naked-gate, around the same time two other BC NDP candidates were replaced because of drug-related incidents. So, quite understably, the NDP are taking their time nominating a candidate this time around.

My advice to their nominating committee would be to, at the very least, do a quick google search of their candidates before green lighting them.

What Next?

The word on the street is that May will formally declare on September 8th, and will hit the ground running with 100 volunteers on the 9th. She's also apparently shopping for a house in the area.

Can May Win?

Well, it's a better choice than Central Nova. But, then again, what riding isn't?

My running of the numbers pegged Saanich as the second best choice for May and, given that she seems to prefer losing to running against Conservatives than Liberals, it's a logical choice for her.

Greg Morrow has also run some numbers and he begs to differ. But part of his reasoning is the relatively weak ground game the Greens have in Saanich. While I agree 100% that May will win or lose it on the ground, the fact that the Guelph Greens had such a strong ground game in past elections might mean they're already punching well above their weight there. If the Greens have been doing well in Saanich without much of an organization, there's certainly some pottential for growth, since one presumes the Greens will shower the riding with pamphlets (on recyclable paper!) and that Green Party members from across BC will drive down in the hybrids to help May out.

So I'm going to go against the general blog/media spin and say this was actually a fairly solid choice for May. If I were her, I would begin campaigning immediately and spend every day tricycling thru the riding until the writ drops. I know May has said she will stay in the riding for the entire campaign, but it will still be important for her to maintain a national profile - so time should be made for national media, and a few trips to Ontario are a must. And heck, maybe she can even make the time to stop by Central Nova to bug Peter MacKay, just for old time's sake.

Previously Known: Central Nova, Papineau

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  • I tend to agree with Rob Morrow's numbers. One of the Ontario ridings provides a better chance to elect a Green.

    I'm also not sold that left of centre politicians/parties want the Greens in Parliament despite what happened last time around with Dion. A strong Green Party makes it easier to elect Conservatives in marginal districts by fragmenting the left of centre vote further.

    In Saanich Gulf Islands in the next election I can tell you how this will pan out...Lunn will win and it will be by a more comfortable margin than he did in 2008.

    A stronger Green Party makes it tougher for the LPC to get a majority government let alone a minority government. Conservative governments are counter-productive to the Green agenda.

    By Blogger The Riel One, at 9:46 PM  

  • I strongly object your claim that is John Baird posing with Gary Lunn in one of the photos.

    It is that sort of sarcasm that brings the political debate down to the lowest common denominator in this country; it is obviously Peter Van Loan.

    Smarten up and fly straight.

    Will the Berry Farmer

    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 1:28 AM  

  • I think the Greens would have a better shot if they changed leaders.
    Someone less shrill and calmer would go farther.

    I disagree with The Riel One - in Ontario Grey-Bruce is solidly Conservative no matter what the numbers suggest. Oh and Rob Morrow is the guy from Northern Exposure dude.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:12 AM  

  • Anonymous (10:12) thinks the Greens would do better with a leader less "shrill."

    I've heard this criticism a number of times, and don't really understand it. Having heard Ms. May speak on many occasions--both live and through the media--I've found her to be a wonderful speaker... articulate, humorous and very easy to understand... and not at all "shrill."

    In cases where I have heard this criticism before, it came more from a perception of Ms. May being a "lecturing-hectoring" grandmother figure. It has come from people who have never really listened to her speak... or who don't feel comfortable with women in politics (Margaret Thatcher was called shrill).

    In any case, Ms. May will lead the Greens at least until their next Biennial Meeting in 2010... and perhaps through an election before that. If she is elected to the House, she will quite likely continue to lead the party. If she fails, she may face some stiff opposition from others poised to take the reigns. All this is as it should be.

    Meanwhile, there is no disputing Elizabeth May has raised the profile of the Green Party during her leadership and moved the party forward.


    Will the Berry Farmer

    By Blogger Berry Farmer, at 11:37 AM  

  • Yo, Rona Ambrose is from Edmonton Spruce Grove dawg... check your source.

    By Blogger Alberta Report Editorial Collective, at 11:52 AM  

  • Alberta Report - According to wikipedia she graduated from UVic. And Wikipedia is NEVER wrong.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:15 PM  

  • I don't mind May. Say what you will about her, but she's made the Greens a far bigger force than they ever were under Harris. I think she's made a lot of poor decisions, but I have a lot of doubts they'd do better with a better leader. Maybe they could use some better strategists and campaign managers around her, but I don't see May herself as the problem.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:16 PM  

  • I have to admit I'm a little confused as to why May chooses to run against Cabinet Ministers. It's a little bit masochistic, no?

    By Blogger Raphael Alexander, at 8:59 PM  

  • Elizabeth May squandered tremendous coverage (not to mention a financial advantage) in the last election into a minor improvement over 2004 and 2006. She fashioned an interesting alternative (the Greens were originally eco-capitalists, like the Green Party of Ontario that won 10% of the vote in '07) party into a generic left wing party - furthering the tendency of the Greens to split the left wing vote.

    She is sometimes shrill, like when she talks about issues she cares about, or when she spent the debates attacking Harper instead of highlighting what new ideas she brings to the table (apart from her opposition to flushing the toilet, none). She is also capable of being funny and likeable in a dorky sort of way (I liked her segment with Rick Mercer).

    Of course, the more I learn about her the less I like. She is anti-abortion and against gay marriage. Her eco-insanity is so frenzied that it goes beyond a simple and basic premise - we should care about the environment because it is a prerequisite to a good life, but not because it is a good thing in itself.

    She is a terrible leader to top it all - in the last days of the '08 campaign she appeared to tell people not to vote for her party. As mentioned above she squandered her debate coverage, memorable mostly for her lousy French and less-than-genuine praise of Harper. She stupidly targeted a riding held by a strong incumbent in a region that would be decimated by her party's politics. She happily signed on to the coalition, accepted the membership in her party of an MP with questionable ethics out of her desperation for a Green seat. The Green Party under May has been aimless, power-hungry and a force for instability in Canada (even if its presence helps the party I like). Like the Bloc it needs to die.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:43 PM  

  • "Say what you will about her, but she's made the Greens a far bigger force than they ever were under Harris."

    Except the Greens had their biggest gain in support occur under the leadership of Harris. May seems to have little impact on the Greens gaining supporting.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:12 AM  

  • Cadboro Bay isn't in this riding. It is Cordova Bay (which has no monster).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:31 PM  

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  • I only heard about it was the home of Cadboro Bay, home of the mythical "sea monster Cadborosaurus" but they were the fabric of deputies to the congress

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  • Saanich—Gulf Islands is a federal electoral district in British Columbia, Canada, that has been represented in the Canadian House of Commons since 1988. It is named for its geographical location across the Gulf Islands and Saanich Peninsula in the Vancouver Island region.

    By Anonymous, at 1:17 PM  

  • The riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands consists of the north part of the Municipality of Saanich, as well as the municipalities of Central Saanich, North Saanich, and Sidney on Vancouver Island. The district also includes a number of the southern Gulf Islands, including Salt Spring Island, the Pender Islands, Galiano Island, Mayne Island and Saturna Island. The district's southeastern border runs along the University of Victoria.

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