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Victoria: City councillor Laurel Collins off to Ottawa as NDP MP

The NDP recaptured the Victoria riding on Monday night, shutting out the Greens.

The NDP recaptured the Victoria riding on Monday night, shutting out the Greens.

New Democrat Laurel Collins, 35, a University of Victoria instructor and Victoria city councillor, won the contest with a comfortable lead over Green Racelle Kooy, 49, with Liberal candidate Nikki Macdonald, 55, in third place.

“We worked so hard and I can’t speak highly enough for the volunteers,” said Collins. “I’ve just been blown away.”

Collins also credited her win to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who did “an amazing job,” and to progressive values — people who want to see affordable housing, investments in health care and bold climate leadership in Victoria.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the city is losing a colleague, but gaining an MP.

“I think she’ll represent the city very well in Ottawa,” said Helps. “She certainly understands cities, which will be important for this new government. Cities are where it’s at in terms of leading in the 21st century, particularly in terms of climate action and prosperity creation, so to have a city councillor going off to Ottawa I think is a very good thing for the city.”

Collins took the riding with 35.8 per cent to Kooy’s 28.2 per cent, with 80 per cent of polls reporting at press time. Macdonald garnered 22.2 per cent.

The Victoria riding, which includes Victoria, Oak Bay and part of Saanich, has a population of about 117,000. It has been represented by the NDP since 2006 — Denise Savoie held it for the New Democrats from 2006 until she retired in 2012, and Murray Rankin, who announced his retirement in February, has held it for the party since. Liberal MP David Anderson represented Victoria from 1993 to 2006.

In 2015, Rankin handily won the riding for the NDP with 42 per cent of the vote, compared with Jo-Ann Roberts’ 33 per cent for the Greens.

Collins said Rankin has been a mentor and she knows she has “such big shoes to fill.”

Collins was elected last October to her first term on Victoria city council on a slate endorsed by Together Victoria, a group of self-described “progressive environmentalists.”

Months later, Collins announced her intention to become the federal NDP candidate, winning that nomination in April.

She continued to serve as councillor until the federal writ dropped on Sept. 11, then took unpaid leave until Oct. 25 to campaign. She plans to step down from council.

Collins wants to go to Ottawa to fight for climate leadership and investments in housing.

Collins was born in Kispiox in northern B.C. Her parents, school teachers, separated when she was a baby, and she moved around the province. She did a master’s degree in human security and peace building at Royal Roads University.

At UVic, Collins teaches courses in social justice, political sociology, social inequality and the sociology of gender.

She has worked at Victoria Women in Need, running programs for women who have experienced abuse.

Collins also co-founded Divest Victoria, which advocates that the City of Victoria put its money in environmentally responsible investments rather than fossil fuels.

Also running were: Conservative Richard Caron, 38, a sous chef; People’s Party candidate Alyson Culbert, 55, a daycare operator; Communist Party candidate Rob Duncan, activist; Animal Protection Party candidate Jordan Reichert, 37, a mental-health and addictions worker; Veterans Coalition Party candidate Keith Rosenberg, 54, on disability; and Independent David Shebib, 75.

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