Saanich-Gulf Islands: Elizabeth May returned with landslide win, and extra Green MP in Ottawa

Elizabeth May had been hoping to expand significantly her caucus in this election, but the Green Party leader will have to settle for just two sets of helping hands, and another landslide win in her own riding.

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May again handily held onto her Saanich-Gulf Islands seat, garnering 47 per cent of the popular vote (with 89 per cent of the polls reporting) to outpace Conservative candidate David Busch, who finished a distant second place with just over 19 per cent of the vote.

At least May will have some help in Ottawa over the next four years, with Jenica Atwin winning the Fredericton, N.B., seat and Paul Manly holding onto Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

An upbeat May, amid a few hundred revellers at Crystal Garden in Victoria Monday night, said her party had made “remarkable strides” in Canada despite not getting the kind of breakthrough it had been hoping for.

“Success for the country is what I care about. Either a Liberal or Conservative party with a majority government would have been disastrous,” she said. “I think they govern with arrogance and push things through because might makes right.

“For me, success is having enough seats in Parliament to make a difference.”

May said it is too early to say what kind of a difference the Greens can make with three seats.

Asked if she is frustrated that Green sentiment often doesn’t translate into elected officials, May said it’s the same the world over.

“Greens take the long view, and we work collaboratively around the world, which gives me a different perspective,” the party leader said.

May split her time during the campaign between her own riding and campaigning across the country to bolster the chances of Green candidates.

She said Monday night that her commitment to the riding — she is proud that she attended nine local all-candidates meetings — despite her responsibilities as a national leader, likely made the difference.

“I can’t take anything for granted, I take my voters too seriously,” she said.

It was the third straight election in which the Conservative candidate had placed second in Saanich-Gulf Islands.

David Busch grew the Conservative vote this time by about two per cent, though it remained behind the 36 per cent mark set in 2011.

Heading into Monday’s vote, the Busch campaign remained optimistic its game plan of

getting to as many households in the region as possible would pay off.

Busch noted halfway through the campaign that he had been drawing support from all corners, including previous backers of the Greens, and joked that he would guarantee a Conservative win if he had another six months to campaign.

“National party leaders don’t topple off; she’s incredibly popular,” said Busch, noting May has the luxury of being a party leader who does not have to cost out her plans and promises.

Liberal candidate Ryan Windsor took 17 per cent of the vote and placed third.

“We always knew this would be a tough riding, but I’m heartened to see a Liberal government re-elected as a minority,” Windsor said.

The popularity of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, which increased steadily over the past month, and his presence on the Island in the final days of the campaign were not enough to open doors for NDP candidate Sabina Singh in the riding.

Sabina Singh finished fourth with 15 per cent of the vote (with 89 per cent of the polls reporting).

Ron Broda of the People’s Party of Canada was placed last with 1.4 per cent of the vote.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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