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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