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Plant apologizes for news release after winning NDP nomination for Saanich-Gulf Islands

The release, which was later retracted, said 69-year-old May was ‘challenged to keep up with riding duties’ due to poor health, and could resign
Colin Plant, who has served as CRD board chairman for six years, was recruited to run by federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, campaign organizers say. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

Saanich Coun. Colin Plant has won the NDP nomination to run in Saanich-Gulf Islands — currently represented by Green Leader Elizabeth May — in next year’s federal election, but the race toward his “dream” job began with a stumble.

Plant, who won the nomination Sunday, later apologized for a news release sent out by a volunteer that he says did not reflect the positive tone he wants for his campaign.

The news release, which was retracted less than an hour after it was sent out, said some supporters have noted that 69-year-old May, “due to poor health (strokes), was challenged to keep up with riding duties in comparison to earlier years, and may well resign before the next election.”

May, who has represented the riding since 2011, said Monday she commends anyone who throws their name into the ring and imagines Plant will “bring a lot to the election,” but she was disappointed by the tone of the news release.

“It’s ageist and a bit sexist to say, well, she had a stroke so we think we can beat her now,” said May, who was nominated to represent the Green Party in Saanich-Gulf Islands in the 2025 federal election. “I’m definitely running again and I’m definitely very active in the community.”

May, who has worked as a lawyer, environmentalist, author, said she’s confident she can defend her record on her work in the community, federally and internationally.

Plant, who said he will take a leave from his roles on council when the election is called, said the news release was sent out before he had a chance to review it.

Once he got word of it, he immediately asked for it to be recalled, he said, adding he will vet all future official releases.

“The recalled release does not reflect my campaign style or demonstrate the type of representative I aspire to be,” said Plant. “I will be running a positive campaign telling people why myself and the NDP represent the best choice for the riding.”

Plant, who has already said he would not run again for CRD chair this November, said he likes and has “great respect” for May.

“The press release should have been focused on the successful selection of a NDP candidate for the riding and unfortunately commented on Elizabeth May in a way that was inappropriate,” said Plant.

About 150 NDP members and supporters attended the nomination meeting at St. Andrews Hall in Sidney to cast their votes. Plant defeated B.C. government lawyer Devon Black for the NDP nomination.

Plant, who has served as CRD board chairman for six years, said Monday he was recruited to run by federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and other political mentors.

A teacher for 25 years in Saanich, Plant, who grew up on a dairy farm in Central Saanich, said when he was a teenager attending Stelly’s Secondary, he took a week-long field trip to Ottawa in 1989 to learn about the country’s parliamentary and legal systems.

“Ever since then I have dreamed of one day serving my community in that role.”

Lynn Hunter represented the area from 1988 to 1993 followed by Reform MP Jack Frazer until 1997 and then Reform/Canadian Alliance/Conservative MP Gary Lunn from 1997 to 2011.

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