Third Time Lucky
Will it be DeSouza or Garrison that we send to Ottawa?
– By Tim Morrison
The Conservative’s Troy DeSouza and the NDP’s Randall Garrison are about as politically opposite as you can get. One is firmly on the right while the other equally firm on the left. But, one commonality the two aspiring MPs share is that both ran twice before against populist Dr. Keith Martin and both are the only two opponents that came closest to defeating our respected but retiring Member of Parliament (see riding history by clicking here). One certainty is that this time around, it will be third-time lucky for one of the two men, but the question still remains as to which one?
When the federal election first kicked off over a month ago, my initial instincts were that the Conservative’s Troy DeSouza would win in our highly competitive riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. But, things have changed. During the past week, it has been said many times that no one expected this Jack Layton surge and it is has also been said that this sudden surge is something much more than a passing blip in the fickle world of politics. So, what does it mean locally for us as Esquimalt voters?
My political junkie cohorts, from across the country, have been calling and emailing, asking for the local scuttlebutt of what is going to happen in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. Apparently, we are one the most closely watched ridings for all of Canada. The nation’s eyes are on us, so much so that we were singled out for a public opinion poll by OraclePoll Research this past week that indicated a statistical dead heat between DeSouza and Garrison. The scientific poll reported 40% for DeSouza and 35% for Garrison with the Liberal’s Lillian Szpak a distant third at 15% and the Green Party at a higher than expected 10% showing. While the vote-splitting on the left appears to be benefitting DeSouza with a 5% lead, the margin of error is +/- 5%, which means DeSouza could just as easily be behind Garrison by 5%. More likely, the two candidates are about even. Depending on whether or not Liberals and Greens switch their votes, the final victory could go either way.
On Monday night, it will be another certain nail-biter as election results pile in from across our vast riding that stretches from Saanich through Esquimalt and up beyond the West Shore.
Pundits from across the nation are still predicting DeSouza will edge out a victory based on how close he came last time, but I am no longer convinced of that. The whole “McKenzie Overpass” strategy has been too overplayed and likely peaked more in the last election than this one. My gut feeling tells me that it will be Esquimalt’s very own Randall Garrison that wins in a squeaker, with the “Jack Layton factor” making it happen. The fact is that voters in our neck of the woods tend to root more for the “common man” than the government establishment. We have voted for the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance, etc, in the past not because we are a right-wing riding, but because we are populist protest voters. Prior to the rise of Dr. Martin, our region voted heavily NDP as part of our “little guy” anti-Ottawa sentiment. Provincially, the communities of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca are solid NDP strongholds with all the on-the-ground organization that goes along with that. Add to the mix the recent fine-tuned machinery that local NDP leadership candidate John Horgan has handed over to the Garrison campaign and you begin to see how a path is being cleared for Garrison to be the one that will be third-time lucky.