That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

An earthquake in Esquimalt

The political ground is set to quiver in my old stomping grounds, as Liberal MP Keith Martin won’t be seeking re-election in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. Some will call this a blow to Michael Ignatieff, as Martin has been an enduring figure in the riding for 17 years. To lose a stalwart is, perhaps, exactly as bad as it seems. It’s not as though he’s announcing other plans except to say that there’s a need for “fresh blood.”

Esquimalt’s affection for Martin has carried him through his career, much more than any clear local partisan bias has. He was elected as a Reform MP, elected as an Alliance MP, and elected as a Liberal MP. In some recent contests, he snuck past a close Conservative second-place challenger, in others he snuck past a close second-place NDP challenger. The nature of the riding is typically British Columbian – a genuinely fickle three-party race in which personality and timing can matter as much as ideology.

Every party has swung wildly there (in more ways than one AHEM), and though 2008’s contest was extraordinarily close, with the Tories closing to within a percentage point and the NDP appearing to have hemmoraged a 6% swing to the Greens, Martin himself remained the X Factor embodied.

Without him contesting, there is absolutely no calling the next race. The Liberals lose out on his local staying power, but have the Cons squandered too much in recent months/years to make a strong showing again? Will the Greens usurp the NDP as the next biggest challenger, to third or even second, what with neighbouring Saanich-Gulf Islands to be such a high profile contest for the Greens with Elizabeth May? (who bets that she’s spending her evening swearing at herself, wishing she’d held off from declaring Saanich and swooping into Esquimalt instead?)

Yes to all of it. Esquimalt is quite a constituency. It’s home to Canada’s Pacific fleet and houses a high proportion of navy families (the first Tim Horton’s I ever knew of in the Victoria area was in Esquimalt, precisely to feed the Nova Scotian “ex-pats”). It has poorer quarters occupied by some of Victoria’s working-class “values conservatives” as well working families under NDP economic tutelage. There are plenty of students and young Victorians with a distinctly granola edge to them, but they have a predictably unpredictable turnout rate. The mixture hardly makes it a bellwether – but it does make it interesting.

Look for each party to put up the best names they can in 2011-12… the hunt, I imagine, begins now (Michaelle? Calling Michaelle?).

UPDATE: Have just read Red Tory Liberal’s take on Martin’s resignation – interestinger and interestinger. BC Liberals will doubtlessly be looking for an “outsider” without the nasty HST taint to fill Campbell’s boots, and that means a federal politician with the Blue Liberal credentials. Hum!


Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. ck says:

    Yeesh! He won’t be missed, given he’s been actively pushing for American health care here. Thank goodness for Ujjal Dosanjh throwing him under the bus.

    When he came back for more, spewing what he did in teh NattyPo just yesterday, after his public smack from Dosanjh, I knew it was a matter of time before he would be gone.

    My guess is he will open a private for profit clinic, and then go into full time lobbying for the Americanization of Health care in Canada.

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