Leaders flock to Victoria as byelection race heats up

Federal political party leaders are popping up on doorsteps across Victoria as the race to replace retiring Victoria NDP MP Denise Savoie heats up.

Three federal party leaders and a Conservative cabinet minister campaigned in support of their candidates over the holiday weekend.

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NDP leader Thomas Mulcair rallied an overflow crowd of about 400 people at Victoria’s Conference Centre Monday night, pumping up volunteers and singing the praises of candidate Murray Rankin, whom he called a “strong voice for sustainable development.” The official Opposition leader remains in town today to talk up his candidate.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae was meeting and greeting people along Oak Bay Avenue Sunday, as well as door-knocking with Liberal candidate Paul Summerville, an economist. In coming weeks, the party also expects to bring in several MPs to support Summerville, including Liberal leadership hopeful MP Justin Trudeau.

Conservative MP Tony Clement, president of the Treasury Board, was in town Monday to rally volunteers and help Conservative candidate Dale Gann with a phone blitz and to greet people in downtown Victoria. Gann is president of Vancouver Island Technology Park.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May has been door-knocking in support of Green candidate Donald Galloway, a University of Victoria law professor.

“It’s status quo to send an NDPer [to Ottawa]; status quo to send a Liberal, but doubling the Green Party caucus will rock Canada and put a smile on the face of a lot of people across this country,” May said.

May held a news conference Monday at Clover Point, calling on all byelection candidates to take a united stand against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat, and the twinning of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline, from Edmonton to Burnaby.

The Liberals and NDP have voiced opposition to Enbridge’s pipeline, but critics say they have not been as vocal against Kinder Morgan.

“It is very important that we take a stand against the Kinder Morgan expansion and doubling of their pipeline, as Victorians,” Galloway said. “I think the clearest possible message in the upcoming byelection — if you are against all pipelines — is to vote for the Green Party. I will carry the message to Ottawa.”

The Greens claim the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion would almost triple the amount of diluted bitumen on oil tankers in the Strait of Georgia and Juan de Fuca Strait — jeopardizing Victoria’s coastline.

The NDP and Liberal candidates both say they have rejected the Enbridge proposal because it’s on the table and they’ve been able to review the science. Since Kinder Morgan hasn’t submitted a formal proposal yet, it would be premature to pre-judge the process.

Savoie, who was first elected in 2006, retired in August, citing health concerns. The Victoria seat was previously held by the Liberals. The byelection is set for Nov. 26.


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