Election 2015: Federal election offers series of milestones for Nanaimo

NANAIMO - New riding boundary, legislation and the longest campaign mark 2015 election.

The upcoming federal election will see a series of milestones: the combined Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding, new election legislation and the longest campaign in more than 140 years.

The writ dropped Sunday and voters take to the polls Oct. 19. The new electoral area will see redistribution of the former Nanaimo-Alberni and Nanaimo-Cowichan ridings, won by the Conservatives and NDP, respectively, in 2011.

Jean Crowder, Nanaimo-Cowichan MP, said having Nanaimo in a single riding is beneficial.

“Now that Nanaimo is going to be represented by one member of Parliament, I think that’s better for Nanaimo,” said Crowder. “There was always confusion amongst people in Nanaimo about who was representing them, whether it was James [Lunney, Nanaimo-Alberni MP] or myself.

“I know certainly when it came to events in the riding, it was like, ‘Do we invite both?’ ‘Whose riding is it in?’ So I think it’s going to be a lot better for Nanaimo to have one member of Parliament.”

Lunney wasn’t able to respond by press time.

The Fair Elections Act, which received royal assent in June 2014, contains language that limits candidate spending and could be advantageous to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the ruling Conservatives, according to David Livingstone, chairman of political studies at Vancouver Island University.

“What it sounds like to me is that it’s going to advantage the Conservatives right now because by starting the election so early, they apparently are able to tap into some money they otherwise wouldn’t be able to tap in to if they’d started it later.

“And because their fundraising has been so far ahead of the other two main parties, that puts them in a distinct advantage,” he said.

The 11-week campaign could be risky for all parties, particularly the Conservatives, as events out of their control can occur, taking away from their message, said Livingstone, although such events can happen at any time.

“Maybe there’s heightened focus when you’ve called the election and you’re running your campaign full speed and then say, something happens with Greece or ISIS, then I think the spotlight is shining more directly on the party that’s in power,” Livingstone said.