The Shifting Tides of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca
– MP Keith Martin announces retirement from politics
Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca Member of Parliament Dr. Keith Martin announced today that he is calling it quits. His 17 years in politics very likely includes holding the record as the MP elected the most times under multiple party banners.
He was first elected as part of the western wave Reform Party sweep in 1993, and then went on to be a Canadian Alliance leadership candidate, then sat as a Conservative, then Independent, and finally Liberal.
Without a doubt, Dr. Martin has been a long-time resilient fixture of the Esquimalt political scene. Most Esquimalt voters will tell you that Dr. Martin is one of those politicians that people will support regardless of his party banner. Essentially, that is how he managed to survive all those years. The Liberals, in fact, had absolutely no history of success in our neck of the woods until Martin embraced the party as his latest incarnation.
So, what does Martin’s departure mean for Esquimalt politics? Well, there is a huge political vacuum that will now need to be filled. We are likely headed for a very divisive “battle royale” between the left and right.
Conservative candidate Troy DeSouza was looking forward to a rematch with Martin, cautiously optimistic of capturing a victory after only losing the last time around by a mere 68 votes. If you are a CFAX listener, you have likely heard his recent radio commercials that he very cleverly airs during traffic-congested rush hour, promising our Westshore neighbours a McKenzie Overpass as a miracle cure for the infamous Colwood Crawl. He made that issue a central theme in the last election, and appears to be doing it again. Esquimalt residents, however, are more likely to want to hear his stance as to why his federal government is financing a very unpopular CRD sewage treament plant slated to be located in Esquimalt.
In provincial politics, Esquimalt is considered an NDP stronghold which could translate to NDP votes at the federal level. Esquimalt Councillor Randall Garrison, who ran previously for the NDP in 2004 and 2006, is once again lining up to be the likely candidate.
Like DeSouza, Garrison is an experienced candidate in the riding who managed to come within striking distant of defeating Martin. Dr. Martin repeatedly won re-election with support from a coalition of right, left, and centrist voters. With Martin’s departure, the right and left Martinites will likely return to their traditional leanings of Conservative and NDP while centrist moderates could swing to either one of his potential replacements.
As we enter a possible spring election in 2011, hold on tight and get set for a rock’em, sock’em polarized political fight for the hearts and minds (and votes) of the people of Esquimalt.