The Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding has a bit of a different dynamic than the other 337 ridings across the country – nowhere else has there been such a recent federal vote.
Because a byelection was held just this past May, candidates in the riding are tasked with trying to maintain or shake up ballot box results from only a few months ago in time for the federal election Oct. 21. Candidates were asked last week about a path to victory in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
Paul Manly, the Green Party incumbent, noted that even though voter turnout was lower in the byelection – 41 per cent compared to 75 per cent in the 2015 general election – 41 per cent was still third-highest voter turnout among the 18 federal byelections during the recently concluded Parliament.
“The main thing I’ve been trying to do is to show people that I’m up for the work, that I’m able to do the work,” he said.
Manly said he’s been accountable and responsive in the community, pointing to a series of town halls, and said he was active in the House of Commons in the four weeks he was there.
“I made sure that every opportunity that I had to speak about the issues here in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, that I took those opportunities and worked really hard,” he said.
Manly and the Greens won the byelection with 37.3 per cent of the vote, so other candidates will be trying to find a way to flip the results.
John Hirst of the Conservatives placed second in the byelection with 24.9 per cent of the vote. He said the Greens did an “extremely good job” of identifying and mobilizing their base.
“We’re going to beat them at that this time,” he said.
Hirst said although a runner-up result felt like “a bit of a curse” on bylection night, he now recognizes that it’s reason to be excited going into a general election.
“Coming in second place in the byelection was such a shot in the arm to Conservative supporters in the riding,” he said. “It was such a boost to the morale of our base that I don’t think I was the only one that felt like we were close enough to victory to taste it.”
Bob Chamberlin wasn’t able to hold the seat for the NDP in the byelection as the New Democrats were third with 23.0 per cent. Chamberlin said he thinks the Green Party got across a message around giving Manly a chance until October, and Chamberlin said “many people” have assured him that they’ll now go back to voting NDP.
“The goal will be of course to re-establish or confirm the initial support that we identified during the byelection, but also make sure that we give the voters a reason to get out and vote,” Chamberlin said. “I think that articulating clearly to the needs that have been expressed in the riding, with the commitments that we have, we’re going to be able to inform voters more so than we did in the byelection … We’re just going to keep doing the work, showing up and talking about the commitments we have, the vision we have for Canadians.”
Michelle Corfield, Liberal candidate, has more ground to make up at the ballot box as she earned 11.0 per cent of the vote in the byelection. She thinks the Liberals’ national campaign will boost all the party’s candidates, and said the level of engagement and support that she has locally has grown since the spring.
“The byelection, that was a moment in time and nothing was going to change, it wasn’t going to change government,” she said. “So I didn’t see the voters that I expected to show up and I think Nanaimo didn’t see the voters it expected to show up.”
Jennifer Clarke of the People’s Party of Canada received 3.1 per cent of the vote in the byelection, while Brian Marlatt of the Progressive Canadian Party will try to build on 0.6 per cent support.