Political campaigns begin for Vancouver Island's seven ridings
Day one of the federal election campaign kicked off outside Rideau Hall in Ottawa with Justin Trudeau asking the Governor General to dissolve the 42nd Parliament.
Around the same time, on Vancouver Island, the Green Party kicked off its official campaign.
Leader Elizabeth May and her Vancouver Island candidates held a rally in Victoria on Wednesday morning. The mood at the event was buoyant and optimistic.
"Well, Vancouver Island is clearly the greenest place in Canada in many ways. We have two green federal members of parliament…". May told CTV News, adding that she's optimistic her party can add to those seats on the island.
With recent polls showing climate change as one of the biggest issues for electors, UVic political scientist Michael Prince, says things have lined up well so far for the Greens.
"They're in a sweet spot, so this should [benefit] Ms. May in debates," Prince said. He added that Vancouver Island is the place – more than anywhere else in Canada – where the party is likely to win seats.
"This is their heartland. This is ground zero for the Greens."
He adds that the Liberals and Conservatives will be keen to make inroads on the island, but may have a tough go of it. On Wednesday, the island's seven ridings were occupied by five NDP MP's and two Greens.
Prince says the riding to keep the closest eye on is Victoria, where the incumbent, Murray Rankin, isn’t running again, leaving a wide-open race.
"I'd say it's one of the races to watch across the country… how Victoria will play out," said Prince. "You've got a strong Liberal candidate, a strong Green and a strong NDP."
With polls showing the NDP support sagging over the past weeks, including in Quebec, it's critical that they maintain key ridings on Vancouver Island, said Prince.
"So this is absolutely essential to the future viability of the party."
With 40 days before voters go to the polls on Oct. 21, islanders will no doubt get a chance to take in all the party's candidates, and all their leaders.