NDP ready for election challenge

Riding chair says Saanich North and the Islands is up for grabs

There are now two candidates in Saanich North and the Islands in the May 14 B.C. election.

Adam Olsen was this week acclaimed as the Green Party’s candidate and has said he will resign his District of Central Saanich council seat in order to run.

Olsen is, so far, the second candidate in the riding. New Democratic Party candidate Gary Holman is the other — and first, having been acclaimed to the position more than a year ago. Holman came within 245 votes of reaching current B.C. Liberal MLA Murray Coell in the 2009 provincial election.

With Coell’s announced retirement from politics last year, both the Greens and NDP see a possible opening.

“Holman wants to give it another go,” said the NDP’s Saanich North and the Islands riding president Allan Collier.

“We feel we have more volunteers and more funds,” he continued, “so we’re better prepared.”

Having come so close in the last election, Collier said the NDP are poised for a change in the riding — and doing so would be a first for the party.

“There has never been an NDP MLA here,” he confirmed, adding Coell has been a strong candidate in the area since he was elected MLA in 1996.

Saanich North and the Islands has been held by the B.C. Liberals since 1991 (Clive Tanner, MLA) and when it was known as Saanich and the Islands (pre-1991), it was held by the Social Credit Party or, in 1972, the Progressive Conservatives.

The Green Party placed a distant second to Coell in 2001, but had not made gains after that. Collier said this year, the Greens will fare better than in years past.

“Personally, I’m not sure how the Green Party will do, but if Adam Olsen is the candidate, he has roots in the community. He will be a good candidate.”

Collier admitted the race will be tight and will be won by whoever can show themselves to be the best choice for local voters.

He said Holman is a strong candidate in Saanich North and the Islands and is looking to make gains on his last election result.

In a media release, Holman said the party is focussed on “preparing the strongest campaign the NDP has ever seen in Saanich North and the Islands.”

“This time, I am confident we can win this constituency and change the government of B.C.,” he said.

The NDP riding association holds its annual general meeting this Sunday, Jan. 13, 1:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Church Hall on Fourth Street in Sidney. NDP environment critic Rob Fleming will be there to speak on issues including the ongoing Enbridge pipeline project. All are welcome, but only NDP members can vote in planned riding executive elections.

No other candidates announced – yet

The B.C. Liberal Party has not yet named a replacement for outgoing Saanich North and the Islands MLA Murrey Coell. Coell announced last year that he would be retiring from politics in 2013, after spending the last 16 years as MLA.

The B.C. Conservative Party has also not yet named a candidate for the riding. This week, they named three candidates on the Island in the ridings of North Island (Campbell River), Parksville-Qualicum and Nanaimo-North Cowichan. A spokesperson told the PNR they plan to run candidates in 84 of 85 B.C. ridings this year ‚ including Saanich North and the Islands. They will not run one in Delta South, as the incumbent there is an independent and a conservative, according to the spokesperson.

 

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