Vancouver Island stays orange with a splash of green, Nanaimo-Ladysmith too close to call

Vancouver Island stays orange with a splash of green, Nanaimo-Ladysmith too close to call
Source: CBC

Five incumbent Vancouver Island NDP candidates and an incumbent Green Party candidate will be returning to Ottawa, but the race isn’t over in one Island riding.

New Democrat candidates Laurel Collins (Victoria), Randall Garrison (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke), Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan—Malahat—Langford), and Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni), Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River) their ridings as did Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands).

However, it remains to be seen who will win in the riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith. Political analysts expected the riding to be the closest of all the races on the Island and that appears to be the case.

As of 10:45 p.m., NDP candidate Lisa Marie Barron had a thin lead over Tamara Kronis of the Conservatives. Incumbent Paul Manly of the Green Party was trailing by around 2,500 votes. There are around 6,500 mail-in-votes that have yet to be counted, suggesting that this tight race isn’t over anytime soon.

Paul Manly first won the riding in a byelection in 2019, beating out NDP candidate Bob Chamberlin. Manly won the riding again during the federal election that was held later that year, beating out the next highest vote-getter, Conservative candidate John Hirst, by less than 6,300 votes.

In 2015, Manly came fourth in the riding during the 2015 federal election, getting 14,074 votes — coming in behind the NDP, Liberals, and Conservatives. In fact, that year, Manly finished 9,577 votes behind the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson, who would later step down and trigger the 2019 byelection that he would end up winning.

Island stays orange

The NDP flexed its muscles and once again dominated on Vancouver Island, winning at least five of the seven ridings.

Collins, who was first elected in 2019, took the Victoria riding by more than 3,000 votes as of 10 p.m. Monday. The former Victoria city councillor survived what appeared to be a challenge from Liberal candidate Nikki Macdonald, who had been leading early but ultimately fell behind midway through election night.

“I just want to say a huge thank you to the people of Victoria for placing their trust in me and I am going to back to Ottawa and keep fighting for this community,” Collins told CHEK News on Monday shortly after learning she’d been declared the winner.

There were rumblings that the Victoria riding could be up for grabs, but Monday’s results showed that the NDP’s grip on the city remains tight.

“It’s one of those things where you walk off the field going ‘yeah, I did my very best,’ so I’m very proud of that,” Macdonald told CHEK News.

Fellow NDPers MacGregor, Johns, and Blaney all won their ridings easily. In fact, the four candidates have won their respective ridings in every single election since the creation of their ridings, which happened when the electoral boundaries underwent redistribution following the 2011 federal election — something that appears to have benefited the NDP tremendously.

“Obviously it’s overwhelming, it’s very humbling to have people put their support and confidence in myself to represent them, to bring their very important messages to Ottawa,” Johns told CHEK News.

Garrison, like his up-Island counterparts, has won his riding of Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke ever since it was created in 2015. But unlike his counterparts, Garrison was first elected back in 2011 in what was the Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, narrowly beating out Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza.

Splash of green in a sea of orange

Elizabeth May may no longer be the Green Party leader, but she showed Monday night that she is the party’s most popular and well-known candidate.

The long-time Member of Parliament easily won in her riding of Saanich-Gulf Island, capturing more than 30 per cent of the vote. Though that is a significant decline from 2019, when she captured over 50 per cent of the popular vote, it’s still a win.

“To go back to Parliament will certainly be great,” May told CHEK News on Monday.

After a strong showing in 2019, the Greens entered the 2021 federal election dealing with in-party turmoil and questions surrounding leader Annamie Paul, who lost her bid to become MP for Toronto Centre and only visited Vancouver Island once during the campaign. May, however, downplayed the impact of the conflict within the party and blamed the media for adding fuel to the fire.

“I never bought the line that the conflict within the party that was driving things down, we had an awful lot of leaked stories that were covered within the media as if they were accurate and I wasn’t in a position to argue with phantoms,” she said.

Whatever the outcome of the 2021 election, the Greens appear to be at a crossroads and their long-term future seems hazy. May said she wouldn’t have an issue with another party taking the Green’s ideas on climate change and implementing them if it meant the survival of the human race.

“I really don’t care about the Green Party in the context of climate change crisis, what I care about is my grandchildren’s future and I am not saying that to sound lofty,” explained May. “I am terrified of the science I am looking at right now and I wouldn’t mind a bit if one of the other parties stole our platform and the targets we’ve chosen and delivered on them if it meant the annihilation of the Green Party but the survival of human civilization.”

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With files from April Lawrence, Jasmine Bala, Dean Stoltz, and Skye Ryan

Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod
Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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