Jack Knox: Who’s running in the Island’s 14 ridings

Jack Knox mugshot genericIn 1983, England’s Colin Hanoman tried to add a fun factor to the British election by changing his name to Margaret Thatcher and running against the prime minister in her north London constituency.

Alas, the returning officer, being a humourless man — or at least lacking a malevolent sense of curiosity — refused to allow Thatcher 2.0 to enter the race.

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Don’t know why that story popped to mind when the final list of provincial election candidates was released Wednesday. There’ll be no Christy Clark going head to head with Christy Clark on May 9.

We will see Willie Nelson on the road again singing the praises of an independent Vancouver Island, though. A candidate of that name is running for the fledgling Vancouver Island Party, which wants the Island to become Canada’s 11th province.

A total of 68 candidates will run for the 14 Island seats. That’s the same number of seats as in 2013, though the total provincewide will rise to 87 from 85 due to changes recommended by the electoral boundaries commission in 2015. Those changes included redrawing some Island ridings to address imbalances in population.

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Here’s who’s running where:

Oak Bay-Gordon Head

This is the Greens’ lone seat in the legislature, the one University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver wrested away from Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong in the last election. The Liberals are represented by lawyer Alex Dutton this time. The New Democrats have Bryce Casavant, who gained fame as the up-Island conservation officer disciplined for refusing to kill a pair of bear cubs. (His lawn signs have a silhouette of a bear; maybe Weaver’s should have a melting ice cap.)

Jin Yang-Riley is running for the Vancouver Island Party, while Xaanja Ganja Free will carries the banner for 4BC. (Just a guess: Xaanja Ganja Free was not the name on his/her birth certificate.)

Saanich North and the Islands

Not since they shut down the Sandown track has the Peninsula seen a horse race as close as that of 2013, when New Democrat Gary Holman (10,515 votes) squeaked by Liberal Stephen Roberts (10,352) and Green Adam Olsen (10,136). All three are back for a rematch, making for the most-anticipated sequel this side of The Fate of the Furious. Independent Jordan Templeman is also running.

Saanich South

Two-term New Democrat Lana Popham is being challenged by Liberal Dave Calder (best known as an Olympic medallist in rowing) and high school teacher Mark Neufeld of the Greens. Also in the mix are Libertarian Andrew Paul McLean and Richard Percival Pattee of the Vancouver Island Party.

Langford-Juan de Fuca

Incumbent John Horgan, the NDP leader, got over half the total vote in 2013. This time he’s up against Liberal Cathy Noel — well known in Greater Victoria as an organizer of running events — and emergency-program manager Brendan Ralfs of the Greens. Also on the ballot are the aforementioned Willie Nelson of the Vancouver Island Party (no word on whether Waylon Jennings is his campaign manager) and Libertarian Scott Burton.

It was the rapid rise in Langford’s population that caused the electoral boundaries commission to elbow Metchosin out of the riding. According to the Vancouver Sun’s Vaughn Palmer, that left Horgan to lament: “I will not have another opportunity to be doling out the mint jelly at the Metchosin lamb barbecue.”

Victoria-Beacon Hill

New Democrat Carole James, the MLA since 2005 and a former party leader, won with almost 50 per cent of the vote last time. Karen Bill, who finished third for the Liberals last time, is running again. They’re up against the Greens’ Kalen Harris, who owns Shatterbox Coffee.

Libertarian Art Lowe and independent David Shebib (who since 1979 has contested about a dozen elections, including the 2014 civic campaign, when he ran for mayor in all 13 capital region municipalities) are on the list, as is independent Jordan Reichert, who ran federally for the Animal Protection Party of Canada in 2015.

Redistribution gave the riding Vic West (which had been orphaned from the rest of the capital) but took away the eastern slice of the city when the boundary with Oak Bay-Gordon Head moved from Foul Bay Road to Richmond Road, with a jog over to Ross Bay Cemetery. (“You can imagine how little I have in common with them,” grumbled a reader who wrote in this week after discovering she had been cast out of Beacon Hill and lumped in with her non-Victorian neighbours.)

Victoria-Swan Lake

New Democrat Rob Fleming, first elected in 2005, won with more than half the vote in 2013. He’ll face business owner Stacey Piercey of the Liberals and Green Chris Maxwell, a Vancouver cancer researcher who promises to move back to Victoria, where he was raised, if he wins. (The Greens placed second to the NDP in both Beacon Hill and Swan Lake in 2013.) Also on the ballot is David Costigane of the Vancouver Island Party.

Esquimalt-Metchosin

OK, this is intriguing. The boundaries have been redrawn so that Vic West is out and Metchosin is in, joining a riding that takes in Colwood, Esquimalt, View Royal and a bit of the Highlands.

The mayor of Esquimalt, Barb Desjardins, is running for the Liberals in a municipality that has been an NDP stronghold. The incumbent, New Democrat Maureen Karagianis, is stepping down after 12 years as MLA. Standing for the NDP in her place is Mitzi Dean, the executive director of the Pacific Centre Family Services Association. Metchosin municipal councillor Andy MacKinnon is running for the Greens.

Delmar Martay, who has been living in a vehicle for three years, is standing as an independent (and yes, he wants to talk about poverty). Bookending the political spectrum are Libertarian Josh Steffler and Tyson Riel Strandlund of the Communist Party of B.C.

Cowichan Valley

There’s a small crowd looking to replace outgoing New Democrat MLA Bill Routley. Green Sonia Furstenau — known for her role in the fight against a contaminated-soil dump at Shawnigan Lake — and the NDP’s Lori Iannidinardo are both directors on the Cowichan Valley Regional District board. Taking another shot at the seat is the Liberals’ 2013 candidate, Steve Housser, a onetime CBC legislative bureau chief. Libertarian James Robert Anderson and independents Eden Haythornthwaite, Samuel Lockhart and Ian Morrison (yet another regional director) are also running. Haythornthwaite was a trustee when the Liberals fired the entire Cowichan Valley school board in 2012 for refusing to pass a balanced budget.

Mid Island-Pacific Rim

The most contentious of the electoral boundary changes was up-Island, where the south end of the Comox Valley riding was transferred to the renamed Mid Island-Pacific Rim.

Cumberland (with a wistful farewell look at Courtenay-Comox) and the coastal communities through Hornby and Denman islands will now be in with Port Alberni and Tofino.

Vying for the newly expanded seat will be incumbent New Democrat Scott Fraser, who in 2013 won in a landslide over Liberal Darren DeLuca, who is running again. Alicia La Rue is running for the Greens, who did not field a candidate last time. Also on the ballot are the B.C. Refederation Party’s Dan Cebuliak, Libertarian Rob Clarke and Conservative Julian Fell.

Courtenay-Comox

With Liberal MLA Don McRae stepping down, voters will choose between Liberal Jim Benninger, a former CFB Comox base commander; New Democrat Ronna-Rae Leonard, a former municipal councillor and federal candidate; Green Ernie Sellentin, who owns a habitat-restoration business; and Conservative Leah McCulloch, whose background is in health care.

Parksville-Qualicum

With McRae leaving, cabinet minister Michelle Stilwell is the only Vancouver Island Liberal running for re-election. She’ll face New Democrat Sue Powell — a Parksville municipal councillor — and Terry Hand of the B.C. Refederation Party. Glenn Sollitt, who ran for the federal Greens in the 2015 election, will be the B.C. Greens’ candidate.

Nanaimo

Leonard Krog, who has held the seat for the NDP since 2005, will face Liberal Paris Gaudet, who heads a tech organization, Green Kathleen Harris, a registered nurse and UVic instructor, and Libertarian Bill Walker, a mortgage broker.

Nanaimo-North Cowichan

Incumbent New Democrat MLA Doug Routley is being challenged by the Green Party’s Lia Versaevel and Liberal Alana DeLong, who was a four-term Progressive Conservative MLA in Alberta. Independent P. Anna Paddon is running again.

North Island

New Democrat Claire Trevena will run for a fourth term against Green Sue Moen, Liberal Dallas Smith and John Twigg of the B.C. First Party.

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