COLUMN: Byelection better than expected

Victoria resident had tough time selecting who to vote for

This column appeared in print Nov. 30

For the first time in my recent memory, I was in a quandary about who to vote for in the federal byelection for Victoria.

Was it because I didn’t see anyone on the list I connected with as much as Denise Savoie, who I’ve known since my days covering Victoria city council, and trusted as someone who would do what she said she’d do as an MP? Probably.

For someone like myself who puts a lot of stock in personal connections – how does candidate X come across in a face-to-face meeting or interview?

I regret professionally that I didn’t take the opportunity to do that this time around. Especially so, given that I live in the riding.

As someone who vigorously promotes the importance of exercising one’s right to vote, and being part of the process, I felt compelled to cast my ballot, but not spoil it.

On election night eve – yes, and election day morning – I set to reading as much as I could about the candidates to get a sense of who I’d most likely connect with if I was sitting across the table or having a coffee with them.

Like a nagging plumbing problem, the topic of sewage treatment kept coming up. For an issue that seems pretty much a done deal, at least in the eyes of the two regulating bodies – the provincial and federal governments – sewage treatment dominated any discussions or debate.

I believe we should spend money to solve the bigger problem affecting the marine environment, polluted stormwater. I’ve always felt that the furor around our flushing screened sewage into the ocean is based more on public relations than hard science or even economics.

As such, I found myself faced with trying to determine whose views or stand on sewage treatment best meshed with my own. I’m sure I wasn’t the only person grappling with this decision. Among the many people I’ve talked to – neighbours, friends and family – more were concerned about property taxes increasing by hundreds of dollars than they were about opposition parties’ views on the future of the Enbridge pipeline.

The hows and whens of sewage treatment have been percolating for years. But as plans inch closer to fruition, a few local politicians and an aggressive anti-treatment lobby group have brought it back to the surface of the public’s consciousness.

I firmly believe that election winner NDP Murray Rankin’s hardline stance on treatment, that we need it now, not 20 years down the road – echoing NDP environmental policy – alienated him from many NDP voters who felt he was out of touch with the mood of the people.

I was one of them.

The Green Party’s Donald Galloway, voicing an approach of “we’ll eventually need it, but let’s see how flexible the government is on the timing,” seemed the next best bet for me and no doubt many others.

University of Victoria political science professor James Lawson threw cold water on the sewage theory. He noted that Liberal candidate Paul Summerville – strongly anti-treatment from the get-go – was not rewarded for his stance by the voters, finishing fourth with barely 5,000 votes.

Watching the polling numbers come in, however, seeing Galloway lead or stay within 100 votes of Rankin until late in the count, I couldn’t help but come back to the treatment issue.

The mood of supporters at Rankin’s and Galloway’s election night headquarters spoke volumes about their approaches.

Simply being in the running so late was a gift for the Greens, since few, if any pundits picked them to do so well. Their jubilation and sense of victory – no matter the result – showed humility and respect for the electoral process.

If Rankin won, it was because he was supposed to win. The NDP supporters who gathered in the plush Fairmont Empress Crystal Ballroom for a gala celebration, a coronation of sorts, appeared nervous as they watched the seesaw vote count.

In the end, their man could breathe a sigh of relief, having dodged an electoral bullet.

I hope the NDP learned a valuable lesson Monday night.

You can’t bank on support when your candidate is no more known than the next person on the ballot, and especially when there’s an opportunity to turn a brown issue green.

Don Descoteau is editor of the Victoria News.

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria-born, 16-time Grammy winning musician David Foster penned a letter to the Greater Victoria School District May 7 urging them not to cut music programs. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
David Foster joins fight to save music in Greater Victoria School District

‘Music is the great equalizer’ Foster wrote in a letter to the district

‘Nindanikoobijiganag: We are Star People’ by Mississauga Nishnaabe Lucbanin artist Estrella Whetung. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Victoria beadwork exhibit speaks to evolving, enduring nature of Indigenous art

On Beaded Ground features work from West Coast artists and a Cedar Hill Middle School group

Former Victoria HarbourCat and Chicago White Sox player Andrew Vaughn. (Photo courtesy of Chicago White Sox)
Former Victoria HarbourCat hits first MLB home run, adds another two days later

Andrew Vaughn is the first HarbourCat alumni to hit a homer in the majors

A seniors housing complex proposed for Cedar Hill Road in Saanich was supported by council after a public hearing on May 12. (Rendering by Jenson Group Architects)
New 85-unit seniors housing development gets green light from Saanich council

Four-storey rental complex would be located on Cedar Hill Road

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read