Who's lined up for Island races in the B.C. election

Say this for a snap election: There’ll be no drawn-out, never-ending campaign like the U.S. is enduring right now. With less than five weeks until the Oct. 24 vote, ours will be a sprint, not a marathon.

That means all parties are hustling their horses to the starting line, scrambling to put candidates in place as soon as possible.

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As it stands, the New Democrats hold 10 of Vancouver Island’s seats, the Greens two and the Liberals one. The other seat belongs to Andrew Weaver, who now sits as an independent after stepping down as Green leader.

Weaver isn’t running again. Nor are three high-profile cabinet ministers, meaning there’ll be at least four new Island MLAs when the election is over.

The New Democrats are the most set, with seven incumbents set to run again: Premier John Horgan in Langford-Juan de Fuca, Education Minister Rob Fleming in Victoria-Swan Lake, Agriculture Minister Lana Popham in Saanich South, Mitzi Dean in Esquimalt-Metchosin, Doug Routley in Nanaimo-North Cowichan, Ronna-Rae Leonard in Courtenay-Comox and Sheila Malcolmson in Nanaimo. Malcolmson was Nanaimo’s member of Parliament but switched to provincial politics in 2019, winning a byelection after Leonard Krog stepped down to become mayor of Nanaimo.

Leonard, who won by just 189 votes in 2017, is the only one of the seven incumbents with a Liberal opponent — entrepreneur Brennan Day — officially in place.

Two more NDP candidates were revealed Monday. As expected, Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne will run for the Mid Island-Pacific Rim seat being vacated by Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser, who announced last week that he would not run again. She will be challenged by Liberal Helen Poon, a Port Alberni councillor.

The New Democrats also said Michele Babchuk, a Campbell River councillor and chair of the Strathcona Regional District, will run to replace Transportation Minister Claire Trevena, who announced on the weekend that she would not seek re-election.

Some choices won’t be clear for another day or two as the NDP conducts online votes in ridings where two people are seeking the nomination.

That includes Victoria-Beacon Hill, where after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, 15-year-incumbent Carole James, the finance minister and deputy premier, announced in March that she would not run again. She has endorsed Grace Lore as her replacement. Stephanie Papik is also running.

One of the more intriguing races will be in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, an historically unpredictable seat where voters often buck provincial trends. It’s the riding that in 2013 made climate scientist Weaver the first Green elected to the legislature. Family health problems led the Green leader to leave the party’s three-member caucus to sit as an independent, and he won’t run again.

Former Victoria MP Murray Rankin made a splash last week when he announced he was seeking the NDP’s nomination in Oak Bay-Gordon Head. Most thought Rankin had left politics for good after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed him as the independent watchdog of Canada’s security services last year. Former Oak Bay councillor Michelle Kirby is also seeking the NDP nomination.

The Liberals nominated lawyer Roxanne Helme as their Oak Bay-Gordon Head candidate in June.

The Greens expect to confirm almost all their candidates in the next couple of days. Among them will be Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau, who was elected B.C. Greens’ leader a week ago, and Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen, who served as interim Green leader after Weaver stepped down.

Vancouver Island’s lone Liberal MLA, Michelle Stillwell, is finishing her second term.

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