Now that the election writ has been dropped and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has officially acknowledged the start of the 2015 federal election campaign, the magnifying glass can be raised above the West Shore ridings of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford and Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.
Those representing opposition parties have anxiously awaited the signal to go full tilt on their respective campaigns, without worrying about staying within Elections Canada rules.
The New Democrats have incumbent Randall Garrison – for now the West Shore’s lone MP – running in the rejigged Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding. Joining him so far are ex-Colwood councillor Shari Lukens (Conservative), lawyer David Merner (Liberal), photographer Frances Litman (Green) and Josh Steffler (Libertarian).
Candidates in the other realigned riding, the northern portion of which is part of the old Nanaimo-Cowichan riding held since 2004 by NDP MP Jean Crowder, have also been busy before and since Harper’s announcement.
With Crowder retiring this year, and the reconfiguration bringing in the bustling city of Langford and the District of Highland in our area, the riding is up for grabs.
Recognizing the meaty electoral value of Langford, the Liberals (entertainer Maria Manna) and Greens (business owner Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi) named city residents their candidates. The NDP faithful rewarded party loyalty by electing Crowder’s longtime assistant, Duncan resident Alistair MacGregor.
Curiously, the Conservatives have yet to choose a candidate, although several hopefuls have been making the rounds for months. Whether the party will declare a candidate or allow a more democratic process to happen is anyone’s guess, including the potential candidates we’ve spoken to. The Conservatives lost their only south Island MP when former cabinet minister Gary Lunn was defeated by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and are no doubt keen to regain a bit of a foothold here.
With candidates given an unprecedented two-plus months to campaign, their biggest challenge may be holding voter’s attention in the long days leading up to the Oct. 19 election.