Courtenay-Comox voters have a choice among three candidates in 2020. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Courtenay-Comox voters have a choice among three candidates in 2020. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Courtenay-Comox race could prove close again, says prof

Last time, margin of victory was less than 10 votes on election night

In 2017, the Courtenay-Comox electoral district kept the province on edge, not only as to who would win locally but what it could mean to the parties fighting to form a government.

In a virtual photo finish on election night, the NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard was declared the winner by a margin of nine votes, beating out the Liberals, Greens and Conservatives. This ultimately prevented the Liberals from getting a majority and subsequently to the NDP forming a government with the Greens.

RELATED STORY: NDP Leonard declared Courtenay-Comox winner by nine-vote margin

While official results came in much later, they held up Leonard’s victory, though the final difference between her and the Liberal candidate Jim Benninger grew to 189 votes.

This time the incumbent Leonard is running against the Liberals’ Brennan Day, who ran for city council in Courtenay in 2018, and the Greens’ Gillian Anderson, who had put her name forward to be the NDP candidate against Leonard in 2017. While we might not see such razor-thin margins this time, University of Victoria professor Kimberly Speers, who teaches in the School of Public Administration, spoke to the Record, saying she expects Courtenay-Comox to prove to be one of the more interesting races on Vancouver Island in 2020, perhaps along with Parksville-Qualicum, where Michelle Stilwell ended up as the only Liberal MLA from the Island last time.

There are a few other places to watch on the Island, such as Cowichan Valley, where the Liberals and NDP are trying to unseat Green leader Sonia Furstenau. Speers also cites races such as Saanich North and the Islands. As to whether there will be an “orange crush” on the Island, she does not expect so.

“I think we’re still going to see a red spot and two green spots,” she says.

Some of the key concerns could be whether voters get behind John Horgan as “caretaker” during the pandemic and the subsequent economic upheaval.

“I think people are looking for some type of stability at this point, given everything that’s going on,” Speers says.

There is question of whether the Greens could add votes, particularly from the NDP, in light of Anderson’s past with the party, and whether the absence of a B.C. Conservative Party candidate could boost Day and the Liberals. The polls do indicate strong support for Horgan and the NDP in the province, so Speers won’t be surprised by an NDP win in Courtenay-Comox, “despite some strong contenders.”

There are things to watch for though during the final days of the campaign, Speers says, such as whether party leaders make appearances in areas where the vote could be close, like Courtenay-Comox.

Province-wide, the NDP is holding a significant lead in most polls, and Speers isn’t anticipating as close a race as in 2017.

“I don’t think it’s going to be kind of that nail-biter … that we saw in 2017,” she says, and she thinks it could prove frustrating for voters if the province ends up with a minority government again.

Still, Speers concedes nothing is certain until the votes are counted. There are questions around voter turnout, though she points out last month’s election in New Brunswick posted similar voting numbers to the previous contest.

“I think with this election, there’s a lot of unknowns,” she says.

While there is talk about delays in knowing the final tally for the Oct. 24 election, Speers said the New Brunswick election was able to come up with decisive numbers quickly, even with a high number of mail-in ballots.

“They managed to announce a winner that night,” she says.

At the local level, one factor missing this time compared with previous votes is the informal polling parties conduct through door-to-door canvassing.

“That is just a vital part of knowing how they’re doing,” she says.

Online forums might be able to give some indication, but there is something missing for local candidates when they cannot meet voters face to face, especially in light of how easily party members can pose as undecided voters online. As it stands, the parties might have to rely on data from previous elections, but the influx of new residents in areas with close races like Courtenay-Comox does pose questions.

“There’s so many ifs, ands or buts here,” she says.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A couple of clients took a break from the cold in January on opening day of the Connect Warming Centre. File photo
Courtenay council approves lease extension for Warming Centre

Courtenay council has approved a one-year lease extension and continued in-kind support… Continue reading

Courtenay artist Bill Bolten recently presented Dr. Bonnie Henry with this carving of a yellow warbler. Photo supplied.
Courtenay carver creates gift for Dr. Bonnie Henry

Bill Bolten presented the carving to B.C.’s public health officer in person

From left, NDP party leader John Horgan, Kus-kus-sum project manager Tim Ennis (with his daughter, Kestrel), K’omoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel, and Courtenay-Comox NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard pose for a photo across the estuary from the Kus-kus-sum site. Photo by Terry Farrell
B.C. VOTES 2020: Horgan promises to bridge Kus-kus-sum funding gap

NDP leader John Horgan made what could amount to a major financial… Continue reading

The three candidates vying for the Courtenay-Comox riding: Ronna-Rae Leonard (NDP) Brennan Day (Liberal) and Gillian Anderson (Green)
BC VOTES 2020 – Courtenay-Comox candidates address affordable housing

In an effort to inform the Courtenay-Comox riding constituents, we have supplied… Continue reading

The Comox Valley Hospice Society recently received a generous donation from a personal donor to help fill a fundraising gap created by COVID-19. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Comox Valley Hospice Society receives significant donation

CVHS is facing a fundraising shortage created by the pandemic

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A screenshot from the virtual all-candidates meeting on Monday, Oct. 19 hosted by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce. (SCREENSHOT)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Mid Island-Pacific Rim candidates weigh in on forestry, tourism, LNG

For the first time ever, Alberni Valley Chamber hosted a virtual all-candidates’ meeting

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Michael Leighton, who is wanted on 11 warrants on Vancouver Island and is a suspect in a recent break, enter and theft in Nanaimo. (Photos submitted)
RCMP looking for break-and-enter suspect with 11 warrants on the Island

Nanaimo RCMP say Michael Leighton a suspect in theft of pistol and $40,000 worth of coins

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Most Read