Saanich North and the Islands MLA candidates

Profiles of three of the four candidates in Saanich North and the Islands

Gary Holman – NDP

Gary Holman came within 300 votes of unseating the B.C. Liberal incumbent in the last provincial election in Saanich North and the Islands. This time, he says more voters are disillusioned with the current government and are looking for change.

Holman, the NDP candidate, said his party is seen as the logical alternative and this desire for change could very well propel him into the MLA’s seat.

“Every government has its day,” he said, “and most people want a change.”

That’s why, he said, the NDP has a good chance of winning here. Holman would not predict an outright victory, saying instead he has hard work ahead in getting people out to vote on May 14.

“I feel this constituency is more diverse than just a Liberal stronghold. The past results by NDP challengers shows that (a win) is possible.”

The fact he came close in 2009 and the prevailing attitude for change means, Holman said, he needs to put in more time and effort to seal the deal. He has been on the campaign trail for nine months, having secured the local nomination at that time.

“I think politics is an important job, we do important work and it’s in our interest to engage people in the process.”

Holman, a former economist who lives on Salt Spring Island, is out knocking on doors and speaking about issues that affect local residents. He noted that the riding has an environmental mind and land use is a hot topic. While he said local municipalities have jurisdiction here, the province can have a role — especiallywhen it comes to agricultural land and food policy.

“Provincial legislation, created by the NDP, applies here and when it comes to the Regional Growth Strategy,” Holman said. “Land use policy is one of the strongest legacies the NDP left behind.”

He said the province needs to keep people farming the land and making a living. If people cannot do either, they often turn to other options, such as real estate, which can put agricultural land under threat.

To encourage more farms, Holman suggested using local resources to feed public institutions, like hospitals.

Transit service is a high priority for Holman.

He admitted there have been some improvements to the service under the current government, but still there are some areas lacking — such as direct service to the airport from downtown and nearly no service to west Sidney and other points from east to west on the Peninsula.

Holman said he’s looking forward to the race. While the riding has never had an NDP MLA, he said he hopes his message and that of the NDP creates positive change in Saanich North and the Islands.

Learn more about Gary Holman at

Adam Olsen – Green Party

Adam Olsen says a higher-profile Green Party at the national level has the potential to earn traction — and votes — as he makes a run at the provincial government in next month’s B.C. election.

Olsen, the B.C. Green Party candidate in Saanich North and the Islands, said federal party leader and only elected Green representative Elizabeth May has been an inspiration. She has, he said, achieved a level of success to which all future Green Party hopefuls  strive.

“The Green Party offers voters a third option, thanks to Elizabeth May,” said Olsen, who left the council of the District of Central Saanich late last year to run as a Green.

It’s May’s example of a tireless MP that Olsen said is an inspiration and leads him to believe voters here are capable of major change.

“It’s not a left-right choice here,” he said. “Where the parties sit is clear but (the Green Party) offer a different way of governance than the others.”

Olsen, who grew up in Central Saanich on the Tsartlip First Nation, said he chose the Green Party due to its grassroots nature and ideological differences with the other parties.

“We are in a better position to represent new ideas when they come up,” he explained. “Everybody in the province is talking about change. The Greens offer real change.”

The traditional parties, he continued, separate the economy, environment and more, but the Greens see it as all connected. The province needs, he said, a longer-term vision that can link a strong economy and jobs with environmental stewardship.

The Greens, Olsen said, think local economies need to be re-thought, making sure they are balanced and healthy, taxes are fair and businesses are owned and run by local people.

“We need to become a lot better at value-added industry,” Olsen said. “We need to get proud in B.C. of producing high-quality products that last, made with our own resources.”

He said the environment is his party’s top issue, but admitted fossil fuels are still needed today — he said he does drive a car. That said, Olsen added there needs to be more options and innovation for energy use, as most of what we use today is non-renewable.

“We do need to invest in local companies to help diversify the economy, rather than putting  all of our hope into resource extraction.”

Olsen said he’s in favour of more wind, geothermal, tidal and other energy sources — including the recovery of waste energy, already used to heat the Panorama Recreation Centre. When it comes to transportation like B.C. Ferries, Olsen said both the NDP and Liberals have had their issues with it.

“We know where we’re at today,” he said. “Let’s roll up our sleeves and deal with what kind of ferry service we want into the future.”

Olsen said more and more people are seeing the Greens as a viable option in this election.

“We are in our third (political) swing of the last 30 years. It has gone from the free enterprise Socreds, to the NDP and now the Liberals. Now, there’s a political culture that people are tired of.”

He hopes voters embrace better governance over simple politics.

Learn more about Adam Olsen at

Stephen Roberts – B.C. Liberals

Stephen Roberts says supporters of the B.C. Liberals are going to have to show up on election day if the party is going to retain Saanich North and the Islands.

The local Liberal Party candidate knows he’s in for a tough race in a riding that might be too close to call at this stage. The last provincial election saw the NDP come within 300 votes of taking the riding. Since then, the area elected a Green federal MP, leading to inroads and credibility for the party at the provincial level.

The riding has, however, been in the hands of either a Social Credit or Liberal party for decades. MLA Murray Coell had held the riding for 12 years, prior to his retirement from politics this year.

“Our chances are good,” Roberts said. “There’s a right-of-centre focus in this riding.”

A challenge from the B.C. Green Party is a concern, he noted, but said they bring few policies to the table and if they did win a seat in the legislature, they would be powerless to bring anything to that riding.

As for the NDP, Roberts said his supporters must get the electorate engaged and interested — and out to vote on May 14.

Roberts said since he won the nomination for the Liberals in Saanich North and the Islands, he has been working hard throughout the Peninsula (he grew up in Sidney) and on Salt Spring Island (he lives there today).  He said he believes in balance in government and that the Liberals are the only ones who can deliver in that regard.

“There has to be a balance between our economy and environmental stewardship,” he said.

“That’s the only way we are going to be able to pay for the services that everyone wants. We can’t ignore people in need, we do have to look after them and help others excel and succeed in a free-enterprise system.”

Roberts is a supporter of health care, having experienced first-hand hospice and palliative care options for both of his parents. The Liberals, he said, offer the only options to pay for increasing health care costs and for services such as hospice.

“We need to start with public engagement and add the private sector,” he said. “I’m an advocate for getting people involved in their communities.”

As a resident of Salt Spring Island, Roberts said he’s a supporter of B.C. Ferries and its role as part of the provincial transportation infrastructure. He’s not in favour of route cuts or ever-increasing fares and wants more work done on keeping costs low for both Ferries and for the traveling public.

Learn more about Stephen Roberts at


Fourth candidate declared

Independent candidate Scott McEachern is also running in the provincial election. Stay tuned for more election coverage in the Peninsula News Review.