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Battleground BC

Nanaimo and Nanaimo-Parksville Moving Left, Right

The Tyee is shifting Nanaimo into ‘solid NDP’ and Nanaimo-Parksville into ‘likely Liberal.’

By Will McMartin, 21 Apr 2005,

Battleground BC has moved two ridings in the Vancouver Island North-Coast region in opposite directions. NANAIMO, previously considered 'likely' to return a NDP MLA, now is 'solid' NDP. NANAIMO-PARKSVILLE, initially viewed as 'up-for-grabs,' has been shifted to the 'likely' Liberal column.

NANAIMO was won in 2001 by Mike Hunter, a Liberal, marking just the second time in four decades that the riding did not return a New Democratic Party MLA. Hunter garnered 44.6% of the popular vote in his district, more than a dozen percentage points below the Liberals' province-wide tally of 57.6%. With the Liberals now polling in the mid- to high-40s, it seems certain that Hunter's vote-share in the current general election will slip below the key 40% mark.

NDP stalwart Leonard Krog, whose political career has seen more losses than victories, was Hunter's opponent in the last contest, and now faces him again in the rematch. Krog won a seat in the legislature for Parksville-Qualicum in 1991, but suffered defeat five years later to Paul Reitsma, a Liberal. Reitsma resigned in 1998 (after being nabbed in a phony-letter writing scandal) and Krog contested the subsequent by-election, but the victor was Liberal Judith Reid. After losing to Hunter in 2001, Krog made a bid for the NDP leadership in 2003, but fell victim to Carole James.

With NDP fortunes on the rise - recent public opinion polls have the party in the high-30s, low-40s, compared to 21.6% in the 2001 general election - Krog should be able to build on the 30.2% he snared in the last battle with Hunter. After a decade of defeats, the Nanaimo lawyer finally will taste victory.

NANAIMO-PARKSVILLE was created through redistribution prior to the 2001 general election. Its' first MLA was the aforementioned Judith Reid, who won the 1998 Parksville-Qualicum by-election. Reid captured 62.6% of the vote in the last general election, and finished more than 11,000 ballots ahead of her NDP opponent. She was named minister of transport, but evidently tired of politics and has opted for retirement.

Ron Cantelon, a Nanaimo realtor and city councillor, is likely to succeed Reid as MLA. His opponent is Carol McNamee, a local official with the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

Check in daily for Battleground BC, Will McMartin's voting predictions and analysis, exclusive to The Tyee. You can reach him with tips, insights and info at  [Tyee]