After weeks of speculation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper dropped the writ last Sunday to usher in a new federal election on Oct. 14, with advance polling days on Oct. 3, 4, and 6.
The election comes just two years and nine months after Harper and the Conservative Party formed a minority government following the January 2006 election. It’s also a year before the next election was scheduled to take place under legislation for fixed election dates that the Conservative Party pushed through.
As of Tuesday no candidates have been officially confirmed by Elections Canada for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding, although each of the major parties have confirmed candidates within their riding associations. If nothing else, it will be a colourful election for the riding.
The Conservatives will once again be represented by West Vancouver’s John Weston, who finished second to Liberal Blair Wilson in 2006 by less than a 1,000 votes.
Wilson resigned from the Liberals pending an Elections Canada investigation, but was not reinstated by the party after he was cleared of improper campaign spending. After 10 months of sitting as an independent, Wilson moved to the Green Party on the Labour Day weekend and became the first Green in Parliament.
The move was expected to allow Green Party leader Elizabeth May to participate in the televised leaders debate, as having a sitting MP was cited as a requirement. But the networks announced Monday that May will not be invited to participate — reportedly after opposition from NDP leader Jack Layton, the Conservative Party and the Bloc Quebecois.
Meanwhile the Liberal riding association confirmed this weekend that outgoing Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland would be their candidate in the next election. Sutherland was one of two candidates cleared by the party’s green light committee, and became the lone candidate when the other candidate, Pender Harbour’s Bal Brar, stepped aside.
The other candidate in the running is the NDP’s Dana Larsen of Roberts Creek. Larsen was a founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party and is the senior manager of the Vancouver Seed Bank.
The West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding is one of the most populated in Canada, with more than 120,000 residents, as well as the fourth largest in size. It’s also difficult for candidates to campaign, with about 40 per cent of the population in West Vancouver, and the other 60 per cent in Sea to Sky and the Sunshine Coast. Long highway drives and ferry rides are required to visit many communities.
Pemberton is in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding, which is currently represented by Conservative Chuck Strahl. Strahl will be running for his sixth term in October.
At the start of this week, the NDP confirmed Helen Kormendy as their candidate. The Liberal and Green parties did not confirm candidates by press time.