Most Victorians put politics aside upon hearing of Victoria NDP MP Denise Savoie’s decision to step away from her position.
Citing a “health warning” from her physician, Savoie said last week she could no longer “represent her constituents to the standard they have come to expect.”
Reactions ranged from shock to sadness, and the consensus formed around the region was that Savoie leaves big shoes to fill.
With a career in politics running from her election as a Victoria councillor in 1999 to her rise as NDP MP in 2006 – a seat she held onto during two subsequent elections – Savoie earned a reputation as a steadfast representative.
Despite political barriers, Savoie helped bring millions of federal dollars to the region for the Johnson Street bridge and sewage treatment projects. She previously spearheaded many regional environmental and humanitarian projects, including the Galloping Goose Trail and regional housing trust.
That type of commitment and devotion to Greater Victoria citizens will be difficult to replace. Savoie’s “city council-style” politics will be missed. Her passion for bringing local concerns to federal ears made her stand out among her cohorts in the chamber.
As she steps down from her post this week, she will leave a legacy of championing cross-party co-operation and initiatives that helped lead the government toward integrating provincial and municipal policymaking.
Although Savoie would not speculate on her replacement, she is looking forward to a “pretty exciting” race for her seat.
Among the names of potential byelection candidates being tossed about in local pubs are Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin for the NDP, as well as 2011 federal election candidates Patrick Hunt of the Conservatives, former Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton for the Liberals and former Green Party candidate Jared Giesbrecht.
Anyone vying for the job will have to answer to Victoria residents and be able to speak clearly for them in Ottawa to earn the respect Savoie gained during her tenure in politics.