The sewage debate dumped all over Victoria's byelection as campaigns unprepared for the popularity of poop tried to push issues of oil tankers and pipelines, our economy and democracy.
"It would seem this byelection has strangely been turned into a referendum on sewage treatment," said Norman Ruff, professor emeritus at the University of Victoria.
"Whether the opponents of treatment get the answer they want, we won't find out until Monday night."
When Victoria MP Denise Savoie stepped down, citing undisclosed health reasons in August, she likely didn't imagine the race to replace her would be dominated by the region's proposal to build a single $780-million secondary sewage treatment plant in Esquimalt.
But before the byelection was even called by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Oct. 21, the anti-sewage treatment campaign of Liberal candidate Paul Summerville hit the fan.
"Victoria looks like an NDP stronghold but they have to be a bit nervous that the energy in the campaign has been with the opponents to the sewage treatment plant - that got split three ways."
The Liberal candidate opposes the proposed plant saying it's based on bad science and economics. The ocean currents naturally disperse the region's screened effluent being shot into the ocean, he said.
Conservative candidate Dale Gann, whose leader Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered promised one-third funding for secondary sewage in Victoria, is asking for a delay to explore options based voters' concerns and scientists' advice.
Green Party candidate Donald Galloway's stand on secondary sewage treatment in Victoria has evolved. He wants to improve the plant - possibly even to upgrade to tertiary treatment to capture pharmaceuticals and chemicals - but he does not want to lose the commitment of federal funding.
The NDP's Murray Rankin has been steadfast that we have the funding and the time to treat our sewage is now, even if the plan isn't perfect.
Victoria has a history of rewarding federal candidates with strong standing in the community, Ruff said.
"The four main candidates don't have the kind of deep community profiles that have characterized people who have won Victoria federally in the past," Ruff said. Savoie was elected in 2006. Liberal MP David Anderson held the seat 13 years prior to that.
Victoria voters go to the polls on Monday.
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