Have you noticed the sudden influx in handshakes and baby-kissing that has marked the early new year?
Yes Cowichan, 2015 is a federal election year and the various political parties in Cowichan are starting to mobilize.
This week is marked by a pair of scheduled meet-and-greets for one political party, the announcement of a high-profile candidate for another and the selection of this year’s new torchbearer in a third.
New electoral boundaries mean Cowichan voters will be part of new riding — Cowichan-Malahat-Langford — that aligns us with parts of greater Victoria, rather than Nanaimo.
Longtime incumbent Nanaimo-Cowichan Member of Parliament Jean Crowder has announced her intentions to retire at the end of this team, leaving the New Democratic Party searching for her successor.
That candidate will be chosen Sunday during a selection meeting scheduled for Cowichan Secondary School.
There is no shortage of declared possibilities. Georgia Collins, Ian Morrison, Alistair MacGregor, Hilary Abbott, Nick Wade and Ellen Oxman are all vying for the nomination.
Meanwhile, the man who finished second to Crowder in the 2011 election has announced he wants to give it another shot.
Former North Cowichan councillor John Koury is following up his recent unsuccessful attempt to become North Cowichan mayor by announcing his intention to seek the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Conservative candidacy.
Another North Cowichan mayoral candidate, Damir Wallener, and former Duncan city councillor Martin Barker had announced their candidacy last year. Jeremy Smyth is another name that has surfaced.
No selection meeting has been set yet.
Finally, the Green Party is hosting two informal meet and greets to give party faithful a chance to learn more about the two declared candidates, and any other who may emerge prior to a selection expected to happen at the end of this month.
Riding association president Cynthia Montgomery said Cowichan farmer and recent CVRD Area E civic candidate Dan Ferguson is one who has declared, joined by Fran Jinnouchi of Langford.
A Duncan session takes pace Thursday, Jan. 22, from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m., the Old Firehouse Wine Bar, 40 Ingram St. A second session happens Monday in Langford.
No word yet from the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Liberals as to their plans.
The next federal election is scheduled for Oct. 19, however is is possible Prime Minister Stephen Harper may call one sooner.