Provincial NDP leader John Horgan predicted his party would win Saanich North and the Islands during a brief campaign stop in Sidney, a claim incumbent Adam Olsen of BC Greens described as “bold.”
“We are going to flip this riding,” said Horgan, speaking to supporters in Beacon Park. Local candidate Zeb King joined Horgan during his 15-minute stay where he spoke with NDP supporters as well as residents. Organizers did not allow questions from the media.
Horgan (who was on the way to Fraser Valley) told supporters he will be watching the riding closely, adding later that this riding along with the riding of Cowichan Valley held by BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau “could be challenging” for the New Democrats to pick up in trying to modify his prediction.
Olsen won the riding in 2017 with nearly 15,000 votes, more than 4,000 votes ahead of New Democrat Gary Holman. Voters in the riding have not elected an NDP candidate since its creation in 1990.
Olsen said it is not surprising to see Horgan, adding that he won’t take votes for granted.
“We have seen a lot of support and to think that you can drop in a riding for 20 minutes and make bold claims like that, I have been on the ground every day and have a very good sense,” said Olsen. “We are doing very well and I will be working every single day between now and election day to ensure that we can continue to do the work we have been doing in Saanich North and Islands.”
Horgan’s appearance in Sidney came less than a hour before Furstenau stopped in Brentwood Bay to announce her party would turn BC Ferries back into a Crown corporation.
Olsen said the presence of both leaders in the riding on the same day does not tell him anything about how competitive the riding might be.
Olsen said he is not taking anything for granted. “We have run a very robust campaign,” he said. “We have a ton of support. All you have to do is look on the lawns of the people in the neighbourhood.”
As for Furstenau’s presence, Olsen pointed to the BC Ferries announcement. “This is an appropriate riding,” he said. “Her community and my community are connected by the Mill Bay-Brentwood ferry and coastal communities in this province are connected by ferries.”
Ultimately, he warned against reading too much into the near simultaneous presence of two provincial party leaders in the same riding.
King welcomed Horgan’s endorsement.
“It injects a lot of energy into our campaign. It’s the last week of the campaign, so it’s very exciting. I’m looking forward to the stretch.” King said he plans to highlight the NDP’s record of “stability” during the pandemic during the last few days. When asked Saturday’s outcome, King said it is hard to voter’s mood without door-to-door campaigning.
“It’s difficult to read, but we are going to run as hard as we can all the way to the end,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Horgan drew a lot of the attention during his brief visit in Sidney. At one point, he even appeared to apologize to King for drawing attention to himself in discussing his part during the 1991 election, “the last time, the New Democrats won a strong government.”
And on the way back to his campaign bus, a woman waved from her balcony. “I voted for you,” she said.
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