Victoria riding profile and candidates

The riding

The Victoria riding includes Victoria, Oak Bay and part of Saanich.

Size: 43 square kilometres

article continues below

Population: 117,133

Registered voters: 94,627

Current MP: Murray Rankin, NDP

In the past: The riding was held by the NDP’s Denise Savoie, who had 16,404 more votes than the next candidate in 2011, from 2006 until her retirement in 2012. Liberal David Anderson was the MP before Savoie; he was elected four times.

New Democrat Murray Rankin received 47.6 per cent of the vote in 2015, well ahead of all challengers. The Green Party had about 33 per cent. Rankin is retiring and is not running in this election.

2015 results

Voter turnout in 2015 was 77.21 per cent.

The candidates

Candidates are in alphabetical order by last name. 

Richard Caron, 38, sous chef

Party: Conservative Party

Lives in: Victoria

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Richard Caron says that like many people with young families getting by paycheque to paycheque, despite two incomes, he wants to create a more stable future for his children.

“The main reason I’m running is affordability has become an issue for us here,” said Caron. “I hear that on the [doorsteps] all the time from young families. We are part of a parent-owned preschool co-op in Oak Bay and there are parents there who are echoing the same sentiments as us, that it’s getting harder to get by monetarily and we want our kids to grow up here and prosper.”

Caron, 38, a sous chef married to a WestJet flight attendant, has two young children, ages four and two.

Caron was born in Sainte Rose du Lac, north of Winnipeg, Man., where the family would eventually settle. Caron’s father was an RCMP officer, so the family was stationed in different communities, including Regina, Sask. and The Pas, Man.

After graduating from high school, Caron followed his older sister to Lethbridge Alta., and later moved to Calgary, where he worked for Earls restaurant. Intrigued by the food world, he moved to Charlottetown, P.E.I. to study culinary arts. Living on the East Coast gave him a broader perspective on Canada.

In 2011, Caron and his wife moved to the capital region. They now live in Fernwood.

It was friend and former neighbour Michelle Rempel, a Conservative MP for Calgary, who “threw down the gauntlet” and convinced Caron to run in Victoria.

“I realized I needed to step up and run for families struggling ... and seniors on a fixed income,” said Caron.

Caron touts the Conservatives’ pledge to make maternity benefits tax-free and to bring back a fitness and arts tax credit.

To grow a prosperous economy, Canada needs to support the Trans Mountain pipeline and scrap the carbon tax, he said.

Laurel Collins, 35, University of Victoria instructor

Lives in: Victoria

Party: NDP

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Laurel Collins is a first-term Victoria city councillor ready to dive into the federal ring and represent Victorians in Ottawa.

“I want to go to Ottawa and fight for climate leadership and investments in housing and really fight for our community,” said Collins, who was elected to city council as part of a slate endorsed by Together Victoria, a group of self-described “progressive environmentalists.”

Collins, 35, was born in Kispiox in northern B.C. Her parents, school teachers, separated when she was a baby, and she moved around the province — living on Salt Spring Island, Alert Bay, Port Hardy where she went to high school, New Brunswick where her maternal grandparents lived, Halifax, N.S., where she did her undergraduate studies, and back to Vancouver Island, where she did a master’s degree in human security and peace building at Royal Roads University.

Collins credits her mother, whom she eventually lived with full time, for raising three children and teaching her about resilience and compassion. “She’s definitely shaped who I am.”

A University of Victoria instructor, Collins teaches courses in social justice, political sociology, social inequality and the sociology of gender. In 2015, she co-published a book, Women, Adult Education, and Leadership in Canada.

Collins’ work at Victoria Women in Need, running programs for women who have experienced abuse, filled a personal need to help stop violence against women — having seen it firsthand in her own family.

Collins also co-founded Divest Victoria, which advocates for the City of Victoria to divest money from fossil fuels and focus on environmentally responsible investments.

“We have less than 11 years to meet our climate targets if we want to ensure a livable future,” said Collins.

Alyson Culbert, 55, daycare operator

Lives in: Victoria

Party: People's Party

Website | FacebookTwitter 

Alyson Culbert, who owns and operates her own daycare, says she just wants to have open and frank discussions on Canada’s future.

Born in Winnipeg, Man., the self-described Prairie girl is raising three daughters on her own — ages 15, 17, 21. She had an 18-month old daughter who died of a heart condition.

Culbert, 55, and her husband moved to Fairfield because of the beauty and “being able to raise my family like it’s the ’50s.” Eleven years ago, they separated on a handshake and he moved to Ontario.

Having started a daycare 20 years ago, Culbert now owns a playschool.

Culbert said she was increasingly concerned about the discord and polarization in politics, and when she heard People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier speak with conviction, she attended a party meeting.

Culbert joined the party, joined the board and was soon a candidate: “I really fell into this.”

One of the issues that concerns her is a fear that Canadians are losing freedom of speech. “I feel like we are afraid of the conversations where we can get to the bottom of things and find the best solutions. How can we find the best way to move forward if we are afraid to speak about things in the first place?”

Culbert said she’s not a climate-change denier but feels there has to be another way to talk about it other than “we’re all going to die in a few years” without being targeted. The same is true for immigration levels, she said.

Locally, Culbert said she’s concerned about the opioid crisis. One of Culbert’s daughters has struggled with addiction to drugs, including heroin. Culbert said addiction is still treated as a criminal issue rather than a mental-health one. She wants drugs decriminalized and regulated to ensure a safe supply.

Rob Duncan, activist

Lives in: Victoria

Party: Communist Party

Website | Facebook

Rob Duncan is a former academic who has taught in five provinces and an activist who, in 2014, ran for mayor of Victoria as Changes the Clown to raise awareness of child poverty and housing.

Duncan, born in Victoria, moved to Ontario and the Maritimes for nearly two decades, first for grad school and then for work. A self-described feminist and lifelong socialist, he moved back to Victoria more than 10 years ago.

Duncan’s first PhD is in developmental psychology from Waterloo University. He worked on a second PhD in political sociology at the University of Victoria from 2012-2016 “until the financing became unworkable.”

In sociology, Duncan’s research was focused on the obstacles preventing social-movement sympathizers from becoming active movement participants.

Duncan has recently been active with the climate action pressure group Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island to draw attention to the planetary climate emergency. He is trying to persuade people and government “that a serious large-scale transformative societal response to the climate crisis is needed” while advocating collective strategies for addressing the crisis.

Duncan says mainstream Canadian political parties — including the Greens and the NDP — have no meaningful solutions for the climate crisis, the housing crisis and the widening inequality gap. Capitalism is not a sustainable system, given its requirement for infinite growth on a finite planet, he said.

“I’m running in order to get the Communist alternative into the conversation,” said Duncan. “There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when Canadian voters will see the destruction looming down the road of the status quo, and realize the way forward has to be based on collective values, collective goals and collective strategies.”

Racelle Kooy, 49, community outreach specialist

Lives in: Victoira

Party: Green Party

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

From living on her father’s tugboat to representing First Nations at events around the world, Racelle Kooy says all her experiences led up to declaring her candidacy for the Green Party on Feb. 24.

The date is the birthdate of her middle of her three brothers, Martin, who overdosed on heroin in 1997.

Kooy, 49, stepped up to run in Victoria before NDP MP Murray Rankin had even stepped down, a move that has left the riding open in what some consider a three-way race.
After more than two decades representing First Nations and working with all levels of government, it’s her first partisan role.

Kooy’s Dutch-immigrant father was a commercial fisherman and, for a time, the family lived on a 100-foot tugboat in the False Creek fisheries terminal. He and Kooy’s mother, who is from the Secwepemc-St’atl’imc First Nations, instilled in her a commitment to hard work and service.

Through scholarships and bursaries, Kooy moved to Montreal, learned to speak French, spent a year studying in Cannes on the French Riviera and earned a business degree from the Université du Quebec à Montreal.

Despite travelling the globe, Kooy keeps grounded in her First Nations culture. At Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s wedding, Kooy, a member of Samahquam First Nation, performed a woman warrior song on the altar of Christ Church Cathedral.

Kooy said she sees the Greens as the best party to pursue meaningful climate action.

She signed up knowing the Greens wouldn’t form government, “but I knew we could make change."

As part of a minority government, Greens could demand stronger climate action, reinvestment in social programs and robust engagement on inclusion, diversity and collaboration, Kooy said. “Our collective wisdom is so much more powerful.”

Nikki Macdonald, Liberal Party

Nikki Macdonald wasn’t born yet when her father, Donald S. Madonald, ended the Conservatives’ 30-year hold on Toronto’s Rosedale riding, winning the seat for the Liberal Party in 1962.

Macdonald, 55, is hoping for a similar breakthrough in her Victoria riding, which has gone to the NDP for the past 13 years.

“My dad had a long-shot riding and he won and held it for 16 years,” said Macdonald, who is married to a social worker and has two adult children. “There’s no such thing as a winnable riding. It’s about hard work and opportunity. This riding is definitely in play.”

Donald S. Macdonald, who died last October at 86, was a finance minister under Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau, as well as chairman of the Macdonald Commission — a royal commission that recommended a free-trade agreement with the U.S. — and Canadian High Commissioner in Britain.

Macdonald herself served as a senior adviser to Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien. She has also worked for international pharmaceutical firm Schering-Plough, is the former executive director of government relations at the University of Victoria, and has spent the past decade immersed in climate and ocean research.

The Liberals consider Macdonald a star candidate — strong on the environment, with experience in industry, government and academia.

Macdonald defends the Liberal government’s approval of the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion as part of a transition toward a stable, clean-energy economy, and she lauds its annual tax-free Canada Child Benefit and National Housing Strategy.

Macdonald originally declined to run. She had just finished her PhD in ocean policy while working full time.

Then a colleague suggested someone might have to go “rogue” to take research on Salish Sea governance into the political realm.

“This is me going rogue and putting my name on the ballot to really advocate and say we need to make better decisions about the oceans, and sometimes the best way to do that is to get elected,” said Macdonald.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Jordan Reichert, Animal Protection Party 

Jordan Reichert watched the 2005 American documentary Earthlings — about humanity’s use of animals for pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research — and became vegan the next day.

“I hold myself accountable for how my choices affect the lives of animals,” said Reichert, who graduated UVic with a double major in sociology and philosophy.

He then started organizing groups to advocate for animals and, in 2015, ran in the federal election, after realizing that the next level of activism for animal rights was the political realm, where laws and protections can be put in place.

Reichert is one of 17 candidates in the Animal Protection Party of Canada.

Reichert, 37, was born in Victoria and makes Fernwood his home. His father, with whom he lived after his parents separated, was the head of housekeeping at Royal Jubilee Hospital and his mother, who lived in Port Alberni, worked in a seniors care home.

Reichert worked as a marine electrician at Victoria Shipyards and in the service industry before he, too, joined the health field — working for the Victoria Cool Aid Society, inspired to help people struggling with alcoholism, as his father had done.

He has been employed at Island Health for the past 10 years as a mental-health and addictions worker.

Reichert, with his partner, has organized and contributed to a number of events, including the Vancouver Island Vegan Association, Vegtoria Veg Fest, the View Royal Rabbit Rescue and the Victoria Horse Alliance.

He is also employed by the Animal Alliance of Canada and has pushed for non-lethal deer control and the phasing-out of the horse-drawn carriage industry in Victoria.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Keith Rosenberg, Veterans Coalition Party

Keith Rosenberg says running in the federal election in Victoria is a chance to bring more attention to the obstacles faced by children with special needs.

Rosenberg, 54, has two young children who are on the autism spectrum and in need of special services.

Rosenberg, who lives in North Park, says the province is generous in funding those services — $18,000 to program providers — until a child is six, but after that, funding is cut to one-third of that amount. Nationally, more could be done, he said.

“Being their dad has given me a wonderful new outlook on life and given me an insight into the obstacles that special needs parents have to overcome for their children each and every day,” said Rosenberg. “I now consider myself to be a champion for those with special needs, as my wife and I witness each day the struggle our children face.”

Rosenberg, whose father was in the military in Britain and Canada, himself served in the military for 12 years. Rosenberg was forced to leave school in Grade 10 after his father was hospitalized for kidney surgery. He took over his father’s job as superintendent of an apartment building, and the following year joined the military.

Today, Rosenberg is unable to work and is on disability benefits, and his wife is a university student. Rosenberg cares for his elderly parents — his father is 90 and his mother is 86 — who reside at Selkirk Seniors Village. He knows the challenges facing veterans and seniors in need of health-care programs and services.

Rosenberg maintains veterans, who have had to live within their means and make do with very little, are best equipped to advise on Canada’s budget.

Rosenberg said he felt a duty to run as a candidate to provide a voice for veterans, parents of children with special needs, and seniors.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

David Shebib, Independent

This year marks 40 years since David Shebib first ran for office in 1979. After four decades of running in municipal, provincial and federal elections, he could be called a career anarchist.

In 2014, Shebib outdid himself, running for mayor in all 13 municipalities to protest the expense and excess of 13 mayors and city halls.

Shebib, who is retired from a working life in waste management, was most recently in the news this time last year for his support of people who are homeless. When he brought the last of a group of homeless tenters at Goldstream Park to his rented West Saanich home, he was evicted. He now lives in Esquimalt.

At 75, Shebib says he doesn’t believe in government. He does, however, like what he hears from the group Extinction Rebellion, an environmental pressure group that practises civil disobedience to encourage government to take action on what it calls climate breakdown and more. He said he’s forming a group called “old farts in support of Extinction Rebellion.”

Shebib says while some of his protests in years past fell on deaf ears, federal election candidates no longer have to pay a $1,000 deposit to file nomination papers, something he went to B.C. Supreme Court to fight for. Candidates still must gather 100 signatures, however. Shebib says he is running as a way to walk the talk.

“You can’t ask people to do something you’re not active in yourself,” said Shebib. “I can’t say I want to change government if I don’t stand up to make that change myself.”

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist