BC Election: Saanich North and the Islands riding profile

BC Election: Saanich North and the Islands riding profile
WatchAs the BC Greens look to maintain their seat in Saanich North and the Islands, the two other main party candidates say it's time for a change. April Lawrence reports.

2017 was a historic election for the B.C. Green Party, forming the first Green elected caucus in North America with three seats including Adam Olsen from Saanich North and the Islands.

With former leader Andrew Weaver leaving politics, Olsen and party leader Sonia Furstenau are now pushing to keep their seats and their official party status.

“I think making sure there’s a viable Green caucus in the legislature is valuable on behalf of all British Columbians,” Olsen said Thursday.

READ MORE: B.C. Green leader hopes voters see value in minority government

But in a riding known for everything from farming to ferries, airports to waterfront mansions, voting history is varied.

The seat was held by the B.C. Liberals from 1991 to 2013, which is when the NDP eked out a victory in one of the closest election races in B.C. history. Then in 2017, it switched again to the BC Greens.

B.C. Liberal candidate Stephen Roberts, a Salt Spring Island resident and former international investment banking researcher, says the pandemic has shown it’s time for another government.

READ MORE: B.C. Liberal Leader maintains confidence as campaign tests party identity

“There are many businesses, many industries around the airport, in Sidney, in North Saanich, in Central Saanich that are suffering badly as a result of the pandemic and they’re really looking to the government to provide some assistance and some sort of plan forward, how do we get out of this at the end of it?” Roberts said.

NDP Candidate Zeb King, a five-term Central Saanich councillor, says his party is the one best positioned to address one of the greatest concerns in a riding with a large seniors population— health care.

“Whether it’s investment in our health care, investment in places like Shoreline Medical, primary care networks and such, more nurse practitioners, more doctors these types of things, it’s the BC NDP that’s committed to doing that,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. NDP takes snap election risk during pandemic in quest for majority government

If the polls prove correct, King says it will benefit the riding to have an MLA in the governing party. It’s an argument Adam Olsen takes issue with.

“The government is made up of 87 members and every member of that government is valuable,” he said.

“Any suggestion that you have to be sitting in one bench or another to be a valuable member of our democracy is an erosion of that democracy and it has to be pushed back with vigour to say we cannot have that,” he said.


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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