Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding profile and candidates

The riding

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford includes Langford, North Cowichan, Duncan, Lake Cowichan, and the Cowichan Valley.

Size: 4,749 square kilometres

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Population: 108,052

Registered voters: 81,888

Current MP: Alistair MacGregor, NDP

In the past

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford was a new riding for the 2015 election. It contains parts of the old Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca and Nanaimo-Cowichan ridings.

In 2015, Alistair MacGregor captured 35.6 per cent of the vote and had about 7,000 more votes than both the Liberal and Conservative candidates.

The 2011 races in both Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca and Nanaimo-Cowichan were led by the NDP and Conservatives, well ahead of the Liberal and Green parties. In Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, the NDP’s Randall Garrison narrowly beat Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza by 406 votes. In Nanaimo-Cowichan, NDP incumbent Jean Crowder had the support of 48.9 per cent of voters, well ahead of Conservative John Koury with 38.3 per cent.

2015 results

Voter turnout in 2015 was 73.49 per cent.

2019 candidates

Candidates are in alphabetical order by last name. The nomination deadline is Sept. 30; we'll update this list as candidates declare themselves or file their nomination papers. 

Are you running in the election? Let us know! Candidates can send high-resolution photos, biographies and updates on events to election@timescolonist.com.

Rhonda Chen, 53, insurance broker

Party: People’s Party of Canada

Lives in: Vancouver

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Rhonda Chen was born in China and speaks with an accent, but she is 100 per cent Canadian and says she needs neither hyphen nor suffix to describe herself.

“First of all, I’m Canadian,” said Chen. “I’m a Chinese descendant but I’m Canadian.

“We hold common values being Canadian and we have a common identity and our identity is Canadian.”

Chen, 53, landed in Canada from Shanghai 30 years ago. Almost as soon as she was eligible, she applied for and was granted Canadian citizenship. She is now married with no children, owns an insurance brokerage and lives in Vancouver, although she promises to move to the riding if elected.

After talking to people in the riding, she says most are concerned about jobs, housing, illegal drugs and poverty.

Chen hopes the People’s Party’s platform — promising smaller government, lower taxes, freedom of speech, more individual responsibility and more respect for differing opinions — resonates with voters.

It’s partly her Chinese background that landed her in the party, even with its distrust of multiculturalism and opposition to open borders.

Chen said she worries democracy in Canada is eroding. The recent one-day strike by young people protesting inaction on climate change is a worrisome reminder of China’s Cultural Revolution, she said.

“It happened in China — young people were encouraged to go into the street, to go on strike not attend school,” she said. “It wasted a whole generation.”

Alana DeLong, 71, former Alberta MLA

Party: Conservative Party

Lives in: Thetis Island

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Thetis Island resident Alana DeLong has a long history in politics. She served 14 years in Alberta as a Conservative MLA representing a Calgary riding. Prior to that, she spent 20 years in computer technology, development and sales.

DeLong was born in Nelson and raised in the Okanagan and Victoria, graduating from Victoria High. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of British Columbia and later studied for a master’s degree at the University of Calgary.

After leaving Alberta politics in 2015, she returned to B.C., settling on Thetis Island with her husband and two dogs. She also has two grown children and two grandchildren.

She said her party has planks that will appeal to many in what she called a very diverse riding.

For young families, DeLong said, the Conservatives are planning tax breaks and cuts, while a promise to remove the GST from home heating and provide a $1,000 income-tax deduction will help seniors.

On the environment and climate change, the Conservative Party is vowing to fine big polluters and invest the money in research to develop technology to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. That technology could be sold abroad to countries such as China and India, which emit far more than Canada, DeLong said.

“What we do here doesn’t matter,” she said. “However virtuous we look, that’s not going to solve the global problem.” 

Blair Herbert, 64, real estate agent

Party: Liberal Party

Lives in: Mill Bay

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Ask Blair Herbert where he was born and he says Ottawa. Ask Herbert where he is from and he rattles off a list of his family’s military postings across Canada.

“Canadian Armed Forces brat,” he explains. “But I always say: ‘I’m a typical Canadian because I’ve been to lots of different provinces.’ ”

By the time Herbert finished high school, his family was living in Edmonton. Shortly after, he joined the RCMP, moved to Saskatchewan and stayed for 30 years, working later for the federal and provincial governments before becoming self-employed, as a home builder and later as a real estate agent.

He has lived on Vancouver Island near Mill Bay for 12 years and owns two real estate offices, one in Duncan and one on Salt Spring Island

Now 64, he has four grown kids living elsewhere in Canada and six grandchildren.

He has always called himself a Liberal and has worked in backrooms and on campaigns. This time, he is stepping forward as a candidate, propelled by one determination and one fear.

Herbert said after watching years-long drought conditions dry up wells and most recently endanger the flow of the Cowichan River, he felt it was time to take action.

“We have to start looking for some long-term solutions,” he said. “I want to see some progress on the environmental file.”

Herbert is also driven by fear this election could bring the Conservative Party of Canada to power under its new leader, Andrew Scheer.

“I have a lot of Conservative friends, but I’m not a big fan of [former Conservative leader and Prime Minister] Stephen Harper,” he said. “I don’t think Mr. Scheer is any different.”

Lydia Hwitsum, 55, former elected chief of the Cowichan Tribes

Lives in: Quamichan Village

Party: Green Party

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Green Party candidate Lydia Hwitsum believes sustainable living and respect for the environment are keys to native empowerment and the way forward for all Canadians.

Hwitsum, a member and former elected chief of the Cowichan Tribes, said First Nations will succeed when the natural world flourishes.

“We are living on our territories, on the land, sustaining ourselves from our heritage,” she said. “So we feel the impact of things like climate change first.

“It’s critical for us to make sure we have a voice for these things.”

Divorced, with two grown children and four “fabulous” grandchildren, the 55-year-old graduate of the University of Victoria’s law school still lives in Quamichan Village on the Cowichan River where she was born.

In her undergraduate work at UVic, she studied Aboriginal governance and public-sector management.

Her career in public service included eight years as elected chief of the Cowichan Tribes, from 1997 to 2001 and 2007 to 2011.

She has also served as an elected member on the B.C. First Nations Summit Political Executive, on the board of directors of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations and as the B.C. representative for the Assembly of First Nations National Women’s Council. She is the former board chair of the First Nations Health Authority.

She is now a member of the Board of Governors for Royal Roads University.

Hwitsum said the Green platform, with its commitments to environmental protection and sustainable development, has something to offer everybody, especially in a riding where the iconic Cowichan River with its storied salmon and trout fisheries is drying up.

“These are signs we need to focus on working together for the sake of our environment,” she said.

“People want and are ready to vote their values and they want to vote Green.”  

Alistair MacGregor, 40, member of Parliament (incumbent)

Party: NDP

Lives in: North Cowichan

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Alistair MacGregor’s introduction to federal politics came via working as a constituency assistant for previous NDP MP Jean Crowder. For seven years, he worked from Duncan to resolve citizens’ issues with the federal government.

“It gave me a very good understanding of how federal programs and services are actually working,” he said. “I also got to see how policies and legislation enacted in Ottawa affect people here on the ground.”

After Crowder chose not to run again in 2015, MacGregor won the riding.

Born in Victoria, he later moved to Duncan and attended Cowichan Secondary School. After high school, MacGregor mostly worked as a tree-planter and earned enough money to pay for university, a BA from the University of Victoria and an MA from Royal Roads University.

Now 40, he is married with three girls — twins age seven and one two-year-old. The family still maintains a home in North Cowichan.

During this election campaign, MacGregor says voters are concerned about different issues depending on where they live in the diverse constituency.

In Langford, young families speak about the cost of housing, child care and transportation to and from work. “The issues are very pocketbook there,” said MacGregor.

Over the Malahat summit, voters have profound concerns about the environment. Recent droughts, dry wells and a dry Cowichan River have put climate change on everybody’s mind.

Meanwhile, people of Cowichan Tribes are looking for action on truth and reconciliation.

“It’s a very big, diverse riding,” said MacGregor.  

Robert Morton Stanbridge, 43, public servant and consultant

Party: Christian Heritage Party

Lives in: Colwood

Website | Facebook

Robin Morton Stanbridge of the Christian Heritage Party believes Canada has enough left/liberal parties, and what it needs is a real conservative alternative.

Stanbridge says the Conservative Party of Canada has shifted leftward because of a willingness to say anything to get elected. “The only conclusion is that the Christian Heritage Party is what needs to happen,” he said.

Born and raised in Victoria, Stanbridge, 43, is a graduate of Spectrum Secondary who later studied at the University of Victoria and Camosun College. His career has been varied, and includes working as a federal public servant, consultant and designer. He is now separated with two children and lives in Colwood, outside the riding.

He said the Christian Heritage Party is firmly opposed to euthanasia and abortion.

With respect to euthanasia, “killing the patient” will always be cheaper and easier than saving a life, he said.

With abortion, he said, medical researchers have little incentive to study alternatives such as an artificial, external womb where a fetus can be transplanted.

The party, however, is not a single-issue, pro-life organization, he said.

Stanbridge said he and the party are opposed to a carbon tax, arguing taxes now levied on fuels should be pumped back into more development of the Alberta oil sands to make Canadian energy self-sufficient.

On the environment, preservation of habitats and biodiversity would decrease CO2 production more than alternative energy sources such as wind power, he says.

“I’ve always been deeply immersed in ecology and nature,” said Stanbridge. “But the environmental movement has metastasized into something that just wants to unplug western civilization.”  

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