Saanich-Gulf Islands riding profile and candidates

The riding

The riding includes Sidney, Central Saanich, North Saanich and part of Saanich, as well as the Gulf Islands.

Size: 518 square kilometres

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Population: 107,339

Registered voters: 86,863

Current MP: Elizabeth May, Green Party

In the past: The riding was created in 1988; its first MP was NDP. Gary Lunn, who ran for the Reform, Alliance and Conservative parties, held the seat from 1997 to 2011, when he was defeated by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. May got 46.3 per cent of the vote — more than 7,000 votes ahead of Lunn, who had won the previous five elections.

2015 results

Voter turnout in 2015 was 79.47 per cent.

2019 candidates

Candidates are in alphabetical order by last name. The nomination deadline is Sept. 30; we'll update this list as candidates declare themselves or file their nomination papers. 

Are you running in the election? Let us know! Candidates can send high-resolution photos, biographies and updates on events to election@timescolonist.com.

 

Ron Broda, People's Party

Former police officer in Vancouver and Saanich

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Ron Broda is a changed man. Six years ago, the former police officer suffered a brain injury and lost his lower left leg when his motorcycle was hit by a sport utility vehicle.

Broda, a father of three, doesn’t remember what happened that day, but he does know what it has meant for the rest of his life.

“I underwent a lot of changes. The fact that I did survive and I’m able to do what I’m doing, there have been so many miracles,” he said. “It’s given me a whole new appreciation for life and an understanding of how fragile and uncertain it can be.”

It’s also meant that if he finds something he has always wanted to do and it won’t adversely affect anyone else, he tends to jump in and do it.

Before entering the race, he mentioned to his youngest daughter, Shayla, that if he didn’t run, he wasn’t sure who he could vote for.

“I feel there must be others who feel this way. I want to be part of the conversation and try and make a difference. Even if my role is to play the none-of-the-above role, I’m happy to do that,” he said.

Broda, an air force brat born in Chatham, N.B., said the issue that spurred him to throw his hat in the ring was the federal government’s “never-ending” deficits.

“I was concerned about the direction of the country and what my children would be facing,” he said.

He is also concerned about climate change, but believes the phenomenon is inevitable and what people ought to be asking is how to best mitigate its effects.

“Climate change has always existed and will continue to exist as long as the planet does,” he said.

Broda said so far on the campaign trail, the question of the perceived intolerance of the People’s Party of Canada, given its stand on cutting back immigration and repealing the Multiculturalism Act, “really has not come up a lot.”

“People who say we are a party of intolerance, I say: ‘Have you read our platform’ and most haven’t,” he said. “I challenge you to point to any part of our platform that is intolerant.”

 

David Busch, Conservative Party

Saanich Peninsula lawyer and former registered nurse

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David Busch didn’t have to look far to find reasons to throw his hat into the political ring — they were right at his feet, his sons Gregory and Alexander.

“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense [to run for office] until you face the fact I am a father of two young boys and I am deeply concerned about the direction this country is taking and I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to make sure their future is better than mine,” said Busch.

Busch, who would be putting his law practice on hold should he be elected Oct. 21, said his campaign is about taking action, being direct and setting a good example for his children.

He also intends to tackle some of the issues he believes might have gotten short shrift under the watch of incumbent Elizabeth May, Green Party leader.

“People seem to be tired of the fear-mongering, or trying to appeal to identity politics or pushing one issue and ignoring all the others,” he said. “I’ve been described as a breath of fresh air because I come in with straight answers.”

The Toronto-born Busch said the three biggest concerns he’s heard from voters are the increasing cost of living, fear over access to health care, given that only half of all Canadians have a family doctor, and the environment.

But he is also adamant those issues can only be tackled if it’s done in a fiscally responsible manner.

“One of the big reasons I chose the Conservative party is we are the ones saying our debt is a problem and we need to live within our means — every dollar borrowed means more interest payments tomorrow,” he said, noting that translates into fewer services or higher taxes down the line.

And he thinks he’s been hitting his stride, as the campaign hit its midway point, as he promotes the Conservative platform to what he believes is a welcoming audience.

“Every day, the momentum is growing,” he said, adding with a laugh that a win could be guaranteed if he had another six months.

He also said the reception on the campaign trail this time around — he volunteered during the 2015 campaign — is completely different.

“In 2015, it was quite hostile. Now the level of engagement has been a pleasant change,” he said.

 

Elizabeth May, Green Party

Green Party leader, lawyer (incumbent)

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Elizabeth May is taking nothing for granted.

Despite her high profile as leader of the Green Party, and being elected twice to represent the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands — the last time with a massive 55 per cent of the popular vote — the veteran MP has learned not to get ahead of herself.

She saw that happen in 2015, when support for the Greens appeared to be growing and some predicted a few Green MPs would join her in Ottawa. But that support crumbled in the last week of the campaign and she was the only candidate left standing.

May admits it was devastating to lose some of the seats they thought they might take, and they were stung by suggestions that a vote for the Greens would ultimately be a vote for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

This election feels different, however, she said. “There is no polarizing figure like Stephen Harper,” she said. “The arguments for voting Green are much stronger and there’s less susceptibility — I won’t say none — but less chance of fear-based voting.”

Her optimism has been buoyed by the increase in climate-change activism and the fact the topic has been top of the list for parties of all colours in this election.

She admits she has not been able to spend as much time as she’d like campaigning in the riding, but says she has a responsibility as a leader to cross the country, raising the profile of Green candidates who could win seats.

“Nationally, it’s a huge campaign to win as many Green seats as possible, to have an effective Green caucus that can hold other parties’ feet to the fire and get results — that’s the fight,” she said, noting she will also be helping husband John Kidder try and win his seat for the Greens in the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding.

May hopes her eight years in Ottawa and the work she has done for the constituency — she cites two private members bills passed into law and helping draw more federal money to the region as examples — will carry her again this year.

She said she has been frustrated by the “gotcha stuff” she’s seen between the Liberals and Conservatives this campaign, especially since it has taken focus away from debate on issues such as universal prescription-drug coverage.

“I mean with three of the five national parties favouring [national] pharmacare, why are we not talking about working together to make pharmacare a reality?”

But as ever, her top priority is the environment.“No matter how well-meaning the NDP and Liberals may be, it’s still nowhere near enough,” she said.
 

Sabina Singh, NDP

Teacher, academic and artist

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The candidates vying to take the Saanich-Gulf Islands seat held by Green Leader Elizabeth May have all said their children were in some way responsible for them throwing their hats into the political ring.

But for NDP candidate Sabina Singh, there may also have been something in the genes that drove her to knock on doors in the name of trying to make a difference.

Singh, a former University of Victoria political science instructor, comes by her political bent honestly — her late father, Dr. Gur Singh, was on the board of the B.C. Medical Association for 12 years and ran for the provincial Liberal party in 1996, and her brother Arjun is a Kamloops city councillor and the outgoing president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Singh said public service has always been a big part of her family, noting her grandparents in India were diplomats.

“In the Sikh culture, seva means service — it is a huge part of who we are, making sure you are doing something for your community and using your life for good, that is in our blood,” she said, adding she has been studying international politics and international power relationships for as long as she can remember.

But now with her children out of high school, it’s her turn to put theory into practice.

“I am going to be a voice for the youth and they are screaming for their governments to work for them, for the next generations, and for the government to start to make the right choices to survive what’s coming,” she said.

Singh, who is married to Alastair McCollum, the rector for St. John the Divine Anglican Church, said like most candidates, she sees affordability, transit and the environment as the three main issues occupying the minds of voters in this election.

But she said what sets the NDP apart is the recognition that climate change and affordability are linked.

“People will deal with climate change in different ways, depending on their income,” she said, noting the NDP is promising enhanced social programs, so it doesn’t have to be a choice between saving the planet and maintaining their homes and caring for their children.

“I don’t think any party anywhere in the world cannot be green right now,” she said. “We all need to be green.”
 

Ryan Windsor, Liberal Party

Mayor of Central Saanich

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Ryan Windsor believes it’s time the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands had a voice at the government table.

The mayor of Central Saanich, who has taken an unpaid leave from the position to run as the Liberal candidate in the riding, said it’s no longer enough to advocate from the sidelines.

“Whether it’s in government or opposition, we need to be able to accomplish something,” said Windsor. “Frankly, I think we need that kind of horsepower, and with all due respect to [incumbent Elizabeth] May — I see where she comes from — but I think we need the horsepower of somebody in government to make a difference … there is value in electing someone in government and last time on the Island, we didn’t have that.”

Windsor has been hyper-focused on his political career over the past year, having taken time away from his family’s vineyard and distillery to concentrate on his work as mayor and prepare for a federal run.

He says he’s changed in his seven years on council, learning to listen to the needs of his constituents.

“I want to ensure there is a two-way conversation between the constituents here and how we are making decisions in Ottawa,” he said, adding he hopes his commitment to listening to residents as mayor pays off at the polls.

“Right now, I’m focused, and have been for a couple of months now, on connecting with voters,” he said, noting he has been leaning heavily on his record of public service as a member of Central Saanich council as much as laying out the Liberal platform.

Windsor said while he doesn’t expect a repeat of the Liberal wave that carried Justin Trudeau to power in 2015, the party’s platform and his own commitment to fight for affordable housing, improved transit and a climate action plan that does not put undue economic stress on households continue to resonate.

“I believe our plan is not only the what and the how, but the best what and how,” he said.
 

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