Friday, March 13, 2009

The next MLA for Comox Valley, Don McRae

Congratulations to Courtenay city councilor Don McRae, who last night won the BC Liberal nomination for my home riding back in BC, Comox Valley.

Don has been an effective city councilor and will be going up against the NDP’s Leslie McNabb in the May 12 provincial election to fill the seat that was held by the late Stan Hagen, who held a number of senior cabinet posts under Gordon Campbell and sadly succumbed suddenly to cancer earlier this year.

Courtenay Coun. Don McRae will be looking for a new hat in the coming months, with his win last night of the BC LIberal nomination for May's provincial election.

"Obviously, very happy about the outcome, and about the months to come," said McRae, talking about his third-ballot win Thursday night.

With the sudden passing of long-time MLA Stan Hagen in January, the candidacy in the local riding was left wide open. Along with McRae, B.C. Shellfish Growers' Association executive director Roberta Stevenson, Salvation Army Community Services Director Shawn Wilson and local Habitat for Humanity founder Jon Toogood put their names forward.

I was a high school student at GP Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay when Don began his career there as a social studies teacher. I was never in one of his classes but he’s a good guy that was popular with the students, and I like the idea of potentially having someone in the legislature with a little social studies knowledge. (Even though we really need good social studies teachers in the classroom now more than ever.)

So, good luck to Don in the upcoming election. It should be a very interesting race. There is recent NDP history in the riding under Margaret Lord and Evelyn Gillespie. Hagen, who had the keys to a powerful Socred electoral machine (lent to John Duncan over the years), was pretty popular in the community, and barely held the riding in 2005 over the NDP’s Andrew Black.

Don brings obviously some profile as a multi-term city councilor, and hopefully will inherit the keys to Hagen’s election machine. I really don’t know anything about the NDP candidate, except she worked in the forestry industry. I do know that 585 people voted in the Liberal nomination vs. 128 in the NDP nomination, for whatever that’s indicative of. Maybe grassroots energy, maybe nothing much. The NDP had a strong union machine in the Comox Valley, but I'm not sure what shape it's in these days.

I think it’s anybody’s election at this point. The economy and jobs are obviously going to be the key issues. The Comox Valley is going through tough times. We still have CFB Comox as a major employer, but we were forestry and resource-dependent for years and that’s obviously drying-up. That leaves us with tourism and little else, and tourism is hard to rely on. Homelessness and crime are increasing problems, and symptomatic of the larger jobs issues.

I’ll try to keep an eye on the race from afar.

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Chrystal Ocean said...

The Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding got a great new Liberal candidate, Rob Hutchins, longtime mayor of Ladysmith. He's a good man who cares deeply about and well-connected to his community. Although I'm not a Liberal supporter, I wish Hutchins well; the party couldn't have picked a better candidate.

Craig said...

I'll be posting regular updates at

My wife and I are the youth coordinators for Don's campaign. It should be good, but it's going to be a lot of work!