Regardless of who is elected in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, there seems to be at least one big winner in our riding: voter engagement.
This current election campaign is freshest in our minds, of course, but it seems as though people are thinking about the election, talking about it and participating in the process, more so than in the past.
We think a major reason for that is the re-drawn riding boundaries. From the start, it’s made a lot of sense to have all of Nanaimo in one riding, rather than lumping half of us in with Duncan and half of us with Port Alberni. Voters no longer need an electoral map, compass and GPS to determine their constituency.
All-candidates’ meetings are more likely to take place in Nanaimo, and what’s more, the topics of discussion are bound to have a more local focus. This benefits the politicians and the electorate, and both seem to realize that, as there have been half a dozen debates already with more to come. One all-candidates’ meeting last week drew 300 people, some of them standing outside the doorway or peeking in a window.
Another outcome of the new riding boundaries is a certainty that our Member of Parliament will be from Nanaimo, or nearby – three of the main party candidates live in the city and one lives on Gabriola Island. Whomever we elect, we can have a greater expectation that he or she will keep Nanaimo’s concerns in mind while in Ottawa.
All these factors have localized the federal election campaign, and that can only be a positive, particularly if it increases voter turnout on Monday (Oct. 19).
As the federal party leaders criss-cross the country’s 338 ridings, sometimes their campaign trails will steer away from issues that are important to Nanaimo. But the local candidates can keep the conversation going in Nanaimo-Ladysmith in the meantime, and remind people why politics matter, and matter here.