Home Election Tracker Canadian Federal 2025 Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke federal election race warming up

Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke federal election race warming up

Will be a hotly contested riding in 2025

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Federak riding of ESquimalt-Saanich-Sooke with boundaries unchanged since 2013. [Elections Canada]
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Friday May 10, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC [Last updated May 11, 2024]

Political analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


The federal riding of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke (ESS) on south Vancouver Island is geographically large and socioeconomically diverse including urban and rural areas, and fast-growing municipalities like Colwood and Sooke.

The ESS riding also encompasses Esquimalt, Metchosin, View Royal and a portion of the District of Saanich (North Quadra, Swan Lake and Cloverdale, and Saanich West), as well as Esquimalt Indian Reserve, New Songhees Indian Reserve No. 1A, T’Sou-ke Indian Reserve and Becher Bay Indian Reserve No. 1.

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Federak riding of ESquimalt-Saanich-Sooke with boundaries unchanged since 2013. [Elections Canada]

The ESS riding has a population of 128,644 (2021 Census) which was an increase of 6% in just five years. As of 2019 there were 99,285 electors in ESS. As of the 2021 Census, 90% of households were English-speaking only, with 8.7% speaking both English and French.

There is a large population of commuters in the urban-rural riding, seeing only 28.3% employed within the riding; 69.6% commute to a different riding for work (2021 Census).

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In NDP hands since 2011:

The riding has been held by the NDP since 2011. That’s in large part due to the tenacity and long-vision of current MP Randall Garrison as a political strategist as well as the strong groundwork of the NDP (supported by BC provincial level NDP) that is maintained non-stop.

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2021 Federal Election vote distribution in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. [Wikipedia]

In the last federal election (in 2021) the Liberals ran now-Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi and in 2019 tried running what they felt was a name-recognition candidate, Jamie Hamilton.

In 2021 the Conservatives ran Laura Anne Frost, and in 2019 had Randall Pewarchuk was their candidate.

The Greens ran Harley Gordon in 2021 and David Merner in 2019 (as well as 2015).

Next election in 2025:

The next federal election is scheduled for October 20, 2025 (though it could happen sooner depending on unforeseen political shifts).

The Liberals and NDP have had a Supply and Confidence Agreement since March 2022 which stabilizes the Liberal minority government through to June 2025, after which time a federal election would be called.

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The current seat count in the House of Commons is: Liberals 156, Conservatives 118, Bloc Quebecois 32, NDP 24, Green Party 2, and Independent 3; three seats are vacant, for a total 338 seats.

Riding history:

The ESS riding has been held by the NDP since 2011 (in 2021 the NDP achieved 43.2% of the vote, which was more than Liberals and Conservatives combined — Liberals had 21.88%, Conservatives had 20.97%, Greens 8.89%),

Before 2011 the ESS riding (then named Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca) was held by Keith Martin 1993-2011 through a series of four party representations (Reform and Alliance which were right-wing, then Independent, then centrist Liberal).

Prior to 1993 the riding was held from 1988 to 1993 by former BC NDP Premier Dave Barrett, MP.

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Candidates for 2025:

Options for voters in the federal riding of Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke so far include would-be or confirmed candidates for the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals. The Greens also intend to run a candidate.

Conservative unconfirmed candidate Ian Ward says that voters are “wanting change”. But that is nothing new for any election. After a while, any population gets frustrated with things that aren’t going as well as they would hope. That doesn’t equate to wanting wholesale change of the leadership, given the other knowns and unknowns that might come with that sort of shift.

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Colwood Councillor Ian Ward is ramping up as the federal Conservative candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. [April 2024 / Island Social Trends]

Ward is a first-term City of Colwood councillor, bursting first onto the south Vancouver Island municipal scene and then even more robustly since October 7, 2023 with his intense views on the Hamas attack against Israel. As his social media posts became exceptionally vocal, the City of Colwood attempted, at one point, to produce a Code of Conduct for their councillors (even though Ward says the provincially-mandated code of conduct work was already being worked on by the municipality).

Ward is a businessman who has been involved with west shore humanitarian missions to Ukraine in the past two years as organized by the former mayor of Langford, Stew Young, and then led publicly in the past year by Bob Beckett (a former Langford fire chief and Sooke School District SD62 trustee).

NDP candidate Maja Tait was acclaimed into the role of NDP ESS candidate over eight months ago. After that she pretty much went back to her day-job as the Mayor of the District of Sooke.

But as current MP Randall Garrison has recently pointed out, the party is keeping Tait in front of the camera as much as possible. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh gave Tait her first national TV media opportunity on August 31, 2023 on home turf in Sooke. In March she again appeared with Singh at a housing-related announcement in Esquimalt.

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Doing her first national press conference, Mayor Maja Tait was welcomed to the NDP team by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke), Aug 31, 2023 at Serious Coffee in Sooke. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Tait is well-known in the Sooke region but perhaps not far beyond that — except at higher municipal levels through her participation on the Capital Regional District (CRD) board and at a provincial level through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) where she served as president in 2020.

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Tait was a property management professional before embracing the mayor’s post with the District of Sooke, a position she has held since 2014 (re-elected in 2018 and 2022). Her local career was clearly actively supported by then-premier John Horgan. And Garrison has had Tait in his sights for many years to replace him, he told Island Social Trends last year.

Garrison will finish out his fourth term until the next election. His constituency office is on Tillicum Road in Saanich.

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David Screech just last week announced his intention to be the Liberal candidate for ESS. The nomination meeting has not been held yet. Similar to Tait, his immediate name and face recognition is essentially currently limited to south Vancouver Island municipal levels. Unlike Tait, Screech has kept touch with the federal party that he hopes to represent, as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada for over 25 years.

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In 2022, View Royal Mayor David Screech is running for another 4-year term. [David Screech campaign]

Screech attended a rub-elbows Liberal event in Victoria on April 19 where he apparently let Prime Minister Justin Trudeau know that he had put his name forward to be a Liberal candidate in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

Screech has been a retail business operator, and was mayor of the Town of View Royal from 2014 to 2022 (following his service as a Town of View Royal Councillor 2002-2014).

The Green Party doesn’t yet have a candidate in the ESS riding but Green Party Leader Elizabeth May told Island Social Trends today that the party plans “to run a very strong (winning) campaign” in ESS, adding that they have “several potential candidates at this point”.

May says: “The local electoral district association has not yet moved to set the date of the nomination meeting.”

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===== RELATED:

Former View Royal mayor eyes federal Liberal chances in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke (May 3, 2024)

Maja Tait kickstarts her federal campaign in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke (September 1, 2023)

===== ABOUT THE WRITER:

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Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been delivering political news analysis on South Vancouver Island since 2008.

Mary Brooke’s first three publications were focussed on the west shore region.

Since 2020 her publication Island Social Trends (with daily posts at IslandSocialTrends.ca) has been delivering provincial and federal news analysis.

Mary P Brooke reports alongside the BC Legislative Press Gallery, since having covered the COVID pandemic daily during 2020-2022. In 2023 she was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation journalism award for serving her community through journalism.

In 2024, Ms Brooke has launched the Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society.