I know that Dr. Keith Martin, a good man, has won this riding repeatedly in the past – but he stepped down and a new Liberal candidate is in place.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Martin just before the last election in which we were opposing candidates, him the incumbent Liberal and me just trying to represent common sense as a candidate for the Green Party of Canada. Dr. Martin saw the writing on the wall; as more people moved into the suburbs of Langford, the riding grew more Conservative. In recent elections, the Conservative share of the vote had been steadily increasing, and indeed in the 2008 election, Dr. Martin won by only 68 votes.
I was accused of nearly handing the riding to the Conservatives in that election, as I garnered 8.2% of the vote, an increase of about 1,500 from the previous election and nearly enough to sink Dr. Martin. (Assuming, of course, that I was taking all my votes from him, and not from any Conservative/NDP/independent candidates. And rather unfairly ignoring the droves of former Liberal voters who stayed home.)
This time around and Mr. Ignatieff is no more popular than Mr. Dion was – less, even. Honestly, I don’t understand why. He seems like a sharp cookie, decent guy, a little arrogant but then they all seem that way; I think that Canadians are just done with the Liberals, at least for now. They’ve become too much like the Conservatives, so one of them has become irrelevant.
Given all this, Liberal turnout in EJdF is likely to be low again, to say the least, and that could easily allow the Conservative candidate to win.
However, Randall Garrison is back for the NDP, by all reports a strong candidate. Can’t say I’ve met him, but people I respect and who have worked with and/or campaigned against Mr. Garrison say he’s a good guy. In the 2006 election, he came in second place, not far behind Dr. Martin.
There is a real chance that this riding could change hands this election – the question is to whom. Liberal and Green voters are the deciding factor in this riding:
- If they vote Liberal or Green, very likely the Conservative will win
- If some switch votes to NDP, very likely the NDP will win
In the past, I have been totally opposed to strategic voting, but I’ve since realized that a) we must work within the political system we have, even while trying to change it, and b) there are better ways to support a party than simply voting.
Real Liberal supporters in EJdF should pair their votes; at least you would be helping elect a Liberal in another riding, given that this one is a lost cause.
I do think it is time to give the NDP a chance. The other major parties need to rethink their strategy, change leaders, and come up with a compelling vision. I wouldn’t say Jack Layton and the NDP have such a vision either, or if they have they haven’t communicated it very well, but at least the NDP is more likely to take some important steps in cleaning up Ottawa and in shifting us more toward the German/Nordic economic and social way of doing things, and less American.
If you’re a Liberal in Esquimalt Juan de Fuca, pair your vote so you see a Liberal elected somewhere, and vote NDP at home. The alternative is to see Esquimalt Juan de Fuca go Conservative, possibly at a time when the NDP will become the governing party.