Peninsula News Review

Olsen gets Green Party nod in Saanich North and the Islands

Adam Olsen has been acclaimed as the Green Party candidate in Saanich North and the Islands in the May 14 provincial election.

"I'm thrilled to be able to get the Green Party message out to people leading up to the election," he said. "I hope to present voters an alternative. It's an opportunity, not just to change the government, but change how government works."

Olsen put his name forward as a nominee for the party's candidate in the provincial riding, long held by B.C. Liberal Murray Coell, who will be retiring from politics this year. Upon learning of Olsen's candidacy, the only other person on the nomination ballot — Susan Whitmore — withdrew. Green Party constituency association chair Murray Weisenberger said candidates had only a limited window in which to register to run. With the nomination meeting set for Jan. 20, that window has closed.

"I believe Adam has a real chance of winning this (riding)," Weisenberger said. "A lot of that hinges on him being a clear-thinker and a middle-of-the-road, young candidate."

While both he and Olsen said they would have liked there to be a competition for the nomination — meaning more members and fundraising — the acclamation gives Olsen time to knock on more doors and focus on his political opponents.

Held by Coell and the Liberals since 1991, Saanich North and the Islands (and formerly the two-member riding of Saanich and the Islands from 1966 to 1986) has long been a conservative stronghold. in 2009, NDP challenger Gary Holman came within 245 votes of Coell. The Green Party came second in the 2001 provincial election, well back of Coell and the Liberals.

"I'm very, very excited about this," Olsen said.

He is building his support with this nomination, creating a campaign team and fund-raising for the race ahead. As a municipal councillor at the District of Central Saanich, Olsen said he knows the local issues. Having worked with federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Olsen said some of her success in Ottawa will rub off on this provincial riding.

"She has shown the way and has established a good model on the work needed to be successful. Hard-working representatives can make a difference."

Yet, Olsen is aware of the polls suggesting the province could unseat the current Liberal government with an NDP vote. He said the two-party system is changing.

"The Green Party offers real change," he explained. "We expect a better level of representation than what people are getting."

The Saanich North and the Islands Green Party riding association holds its official nomination meeting at 1 p.m. on Jan. 20 at the Ardmore Golf Club in North Saanich. More information about Olsen can be found at www.adamolsen.ca.

Olsen added he plans to resign his municipal council seat soon in order to focus on his provincial political aspirations. That will leave two council seats up for grabs in the distirct's upcoming by-election (no date has been announced). The other seat was vacated when Terry Siklenka resigned following a move to Grand Cayman late last year.

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