Sabina Singh, the NDP candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands, believes momentum is with her party locally, despite finishing in third place. Hers is the only Vancouver Island riding that did not elect a New Democrat. (Photo courtesy of the Sabina Singh campaign)

Sabina Singh, the NDP candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands, believes momentum is with her party locally, despite finishing in third place. Hers is the only Vancouver Island riding that did not elect a New Democrat. (Photo courtesy of the Sabina Singh campaign)

Saanich-Gulf Islands NDP candidate sees party gaining momentum

Singh increases vote share, while Tories’ share of the local vote stagnates

The New Democratic candidate in Saanich-Gulf Islands wasn’t surprised at Green candidate Elizabeth May’s latest election win, but also signalled she might run again herself.

“Incumbent MPs are difficult to unseat,” said Sabina Singh, who improved on her fourth-place 2019 finish by sitting third at the end of Monday with 10,937 votes, 19 per cent of the 57,637 ballots cast in the riding.

May won with 21,196 (36.8 per cent), while Conservative David Busch was second with 13,025 (22.6 per cent).

Singh’s third-place finish marks an improvement, as she finished fourth in 2019 with 8,446 votes, or 13 per cent of the vote when the total turnout was higher.

“I think our team did a really great job,” she said. “I’m very proud of the work everybody did and we will just keep going.”

Saanich Gulf-Islands was the only Vancouver Island riding not to elect a New Democrat. While Singh acknowledged the NDP still has a way to go to win that riding, it is clearly on the party’s radar.

“The momentum is going the right way for us,” she said. “Obviously, we are back in the same place, so we may be at it again in another two years.”

Busch said he was proud to have run a positive platform and thanked volunteers and donors for their support, as well as his wife and two sons, “who have very graciously lent me out over the last month.” Noting the overall result Monday was not what he and party supporters hoped for, he also took the opportunity to call out the prime minister.

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“After a snap $650-million election call in the middle of summer and the fourth wave of COVID-19, the Canadian people said ‘No Thank You’ to Justin Trudeau with his ballot box question, ‘do I deserve a majority government?,’” Busch said.

Liberal candidate Sherri Moore-Arbour wound up a close fourth with 10,495 votes (18.2 per cent). If she felt disappointed about the local outcome, Moore-Arbour could take comfort in the national picture, which saw the Liberals regain a minority government.

“I look forward to seeing the Liberal Climate Plan, the implementation of UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People), the (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) Action Plan and $10/day childcare,” she said in a statement to Black Press Media. “I think all of these priorities will serve the voters in Saanich-Gulf Islands. It was clear that climate action, affordability and our economic recovery were high priorities for voters.”

People’s Party of Canada’s David Hilderman was fifth (1,857 votes), while Communist Dock Currie received 127 votes.

Local Conservatives, meanwhile, may well be wondering about their stagnating vote in the riding.

While the Conservatives’ share of the vote rose to 22 per cent, its raw vote has stagnated. Tory candidates topped 13,000 votes in 2015, 2019 and 2021. By comparison, former MP Gary Lunn, who won the riding three times as a Conservative (2008, 2006 and 2004), once as member of the Canadian Alliance (2000) and once with Reform (1997), never won less than about 22,000 votes and won almost 28,000 in 2008. Even in his 2011 loss to May, Lunn secured almost 25,000 votes.

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These figures (which come with the proviso the riding boundaries underwent a minor change in 2013) suggest the party has a core group of supporters, but a limited ceiling when it comes to attracting new ones. Many would-be Tories may have also switched their votes to other candidates including May or no longer participate in politics.

May, for the record, recorded her lowest vote total since becoming MP in 2011, when she garnered 31,890 votes. In 2015, she secured 37,070 votes and 33,454 votes in 2019. This said, turnout in 2021 was the lowest among the four elections.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Election 2021Saanich–Gulf Islands

 

David Busch is the Conservative candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands. (Courtesy of the David Busch campaign)

David Busch is the Conservative candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands. (Courtesy of the David Busch campaign)