Sherri Moore-Arbour, the first-time candidate for the federal Liberals in Saanich–Gulf Islands, is not blind to fact that she is running against three candidates (Conservative David Busch, Green Elizabeth May and New Democratic Sabine Singh) whose names appeared on the ballot during the last federal election.
She is also not blind to the fact that one of her opponents — May — enjoys instant name-recognition, having won the riding three times by double-digit margins.
But if Moore-Arbour recognizes the importance of name recognition, she also thinks that voters find themselves in a very different place. “Voters are shopping,” she said. “Voters are migrating. They are moving.”
In Moore-Arbour’s reading, every riding in British Columbia, including Saanich-Gulf Islands, will impact the overall outcome of the election.
“I don’t need to take on Elizabeth May,” said Moore-Arbour. “She has done great work. But if voters in (Saanich–Gulf Islands) are serious about taking action on issues that matter to her, they are going to have to take a serious look at the (federal) Liberal Party this time.”
Whether voters are moving in sufficient numbers to the federal Liberals remains to be seen. The party has historically struggled in the riding and its predecessors. David Anderson, minister of the environment during the Chretien era in the late 1990s and early 2000s, represented part of the riding four years between 1968 and 1972, so some time ago.
The Liberals’ history in the riding also bumps up against current questions about the rationale for this election and its commitment toward the environment, with May arguing that Liberals lack credibility on fighting climate change after the Liberals had nationalized the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.
“I will repeat what you have probably read elsewhere, which is that I think that the federal response to the pandemic and the recovery is absolutely on the ballot,” said Moore-Arbour. “Canadians deserve a say in how we resolve the pandemic. That is really consequential.”
More broadly, Canadians need what she called a “stable and compassionate government” during unquestionable times of instability like the current pandemic. “Also, when it comes to climate change…we need to have a majority government that is able to be braver than we have ever been before.”
When asked about May’s criticism, Moore-Arbour challenged the premise.
“It’s really impossible for us to turn the (fossil fuel) taps off immediately,” she said. “This is really about how we can safely and responsibly transport fossil fuels as we transition off of fossil fuels.
“We all agree that it (climate change) is alarming and real and there is no question that we need to move responsibly and quickly to cleaner and greener energy options. But it is really about a responsible path and transition.”
Moore-Arbour sees herself as a progressive voice.
“We need a fighter inside of government, who will champion (the fight against) climate change and progressive issues,” she said.
Moore-Arbour, who runs a public relations-firm based on Galiano Island, points to her work in helping to elect more women and people of colour among other causes. “We have a deep and abiding commitment in my family to getting involved,” said Moore-Arbour. “It’s a huge part of my politics.”
A mother of two teenagers, including one with a disability, Moore-Arbour also points to her Metis background. “Another important piece about me is that I’m Indigenous,” she said. “I actually think that we need more Indigenous Members of Parliament who will play a key role in Reconciliation, so that we can walk that journey together.”
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