Election 2015: Meet the candidates in Saanich Gulf Islands

Saanich News profiles the candidates in the upcoming federal election

  • Sep. 10, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Robert Boyd – Conservative

Saanich Gulf Islands candidate Robert Boyd’s age is deceiving. At just 28, the first-time candidate has already been with the Conservative Party half his life, having joined the party at the age of 14.

And no, there were no other students from his high school, Reynolds secondary, in the Conservative party at the time, let alone anyone his age.

“I was the youngest [from the area],” Boyd said. “There’s actually a lot you can do at that age. I was interested in current affairs and felt the best way to contribute to my community and country was to get involved.”

At 15 years of age, Boyd attended his first convention, a policy convention in Edmonton. In 2004 he volunteered to support Stephen Harper’s leadership race in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding. Boyd was then part of Gary Lunn’s successful re-election campaigns in 2004, 2006 and 2008, and was part of the team again in 2011.

An avid runner with a focus on 10-kilometre races, Boyd’s story isn’t unlike many from Saanich.

After graduating Reynolds (yes he was in the band: tenor sax), Boyd studied pre-commerce at the University of Calgary and earned his mortgage broker’s licence which he’s been doing for six years. He’s currently part of Zilla Mortgage Corp., a downtown office affiliate of Dominion Lending Centres.

“I love working in mortgages and helping people purchase what will be the biggest asset they have in their lives,” Boyd said. “Navigating through it is something I enjoy helping people do.”

This fall the only race Boyd is focused on is the Oct. 19 election. However, the fair-weather runner admits as long as it’s sunny, he’ll be getting in some runs through his Gordon Head neighbourhood and nearby Mount Douglas Park.

“I wasn’t a competitive runner in high school. It’s something I’ve taken up in the last few years.”

The Conservative Party usually enters a team into the Vancouver Sun Run which draws Boyd closer to running.

For now, he’ll stick to the 10k distance.

“I hope to do a marathon one day but I’ll have to build up to it in terms of training,” Boyd said.

 

Alicia Cormier – NDP

After more than 30 years in a variety of business management, sales and human resources positions, Alicia Cormier decided to take the plunge into politics – after some prodding to do so by her daughters, Valarie and Amber.

Cormier is making her first foray into federal politics during the 2015 election, winning the NDP’s endorsement in Saanich Gulf Islands this past August.

“For all of that time I was working, I volunteered and raised a family and that helped me with my community life,” she said. “When my daughters moved on I had only myself to think about and I was looking for ways to carry on in my community.”

Cormier, a resident of the Saanich Peninsula since 1969, served on the Advisory Planning Commission for the District of Central Saanich and has held many volunteer positions within the community, including volunteering with the Brentwood Bay Revitalization Committee, Heritage Acres, Girl Guides and Central Saanich Extreme Softball.

She has volunteered with Farmlands Trust, Independent Living Housing Society and in 2013, she founded the Saanich Peninsula chapter of Green Drinks, offering monthly networking and variety of local speakers.

“It was my oldest daughter who suggested politics may be the right move,” she said in an interview.

Cormier ran for municipal office in 2013, in a byelection in Central Saanich. She was later elected to the district council again in November 2014.

She said that during her time as a municipal councillor, she learned communities need strong partners at the provincial and federal levels. She added she sees great potential for the NDP both in this riding and across the country. Cormier said she initially looked to politics due to the impacts of climate change and federal policies that she said have come up wanting. To make any significant difference, Cormier said she felt it was time to jump into the federal race.

“I felt, on one hand, that women are under-represented in politics,” she said. “I had originally supported the Green Party’s stance on climate change but I moved away from them and began to look at a party where real change could actually happen. In order to make change, it’s a matter of getting enough seats to be able to do that.”

Cormier, whose partner is Gary Holman, the NDP’s provincial MLA in Saanich North and the Islands, said she’s not a traditional politician but felt she had to stand up – especially at a time when she said the current government is vulnerable.

“These things only come up every so often and it seemed like the time for me to decide whether to continue at the local level or to step up to the big leagues.”

 

Tim Kane – Liberal

Tim Kane may’ve spent most of his life in Ottawa, but his political career didn’t begin until he moved 4,000 kilometres away to Saanich.

For almost 25 years, Kane served as chairman of Delta Media Inc., an Ottawa-based PR, marketing and communications firm that he founded with his wife and business partner, Sheena Pennie. While he still holds that position, he left the day-to-day operations in the hands of others when he and his wife decided to settle down on the west coast.

“I was getting to be 60 and we were starting to think about retirement,” recalled the Liberal candidate for Saanich Gulf Islands, noting they wanted to escape Ottawa’s frigid winters and blistering hot summers.

“We said to ourselves, ‘Where can we go and still be in Canada?’”

Kane had only been to the Island once for business – “I flew in and flew out,” he said – but they had friends living in Victoria who offered to show them around some neighbourhoods.

“We fell in love with Saanich,” he said. “The openness, the ocean, the mountains, the people who were so friendly and welcoming to us – it was really heartening to feel that.”

Prior to moving to Saanich, Kane had an extensive business career in Canada’s capital. From 1997 to 2010, Kane was a partner with the Worldcom Public Relations Group, an international network of independently owned public relations firms.

Kane studied advertising and communications at St. Clair College and the University of Windsor. He was recognized by St. Clair with its Alumni of Distinction Award in 2000, and in 2008, he was the first inductee into the Algonquin College Media Hall of Fame. He holds an honorary bachelor’s degree in applied studies from Algonquin College.

In 2002, Kane received the Golden Jubilee Medal of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and before that, he was nominated for the Ontario Premier’s Award for outstanding contributions to his community.

And, despite being retired, in 2013, Kane became the vice-president of Treemote, a company with an eponymous remote control for turning Christmas tree lights on and off. However, he said he’s had to put that on hold as he runs for the Liberals.

But Saanich, he said, has been a great place for him and his wife, with family perhaps being the deciding factor in their cross-country move.

“My daughter had moved out here, and I have a son on the Sunshine Coast,” he said, noting his two grandsons live in Gibsons. “We had a lot of things attracting us here, and we just thought, this is a great community.”

 

Elizabeth May – Green Party

Since coming to the Saanich Peninsula prior to commencing the 2011 federal election campaign, Elizabeth May has made herself a home in Sidney and has proven herself a member of the community outside of politics.

May, the incumbent Member of Parliament for Saanich Gulf Islands and leader of the Green Party of Canada, has worked hard to endear herself to the community. In fact, it’s not uncommon for her to break from interviews to greet friends and to share stories. It could be argued that May spends almost as much time at local events as she does on Parliament Hill.

Almost – but not quite. May has been in politics for most of her adult life and certainly revels in her political life.

May grew up on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and in the 1970s, joined residents to fight a herbicide spraying program. She continued her activism in the areas of the environment, women’s health and public policy, to name but a few. She holds a law degree from Halifax’s Dalhousie University and is a student of theology.

In 1986, she became a senior policy advisor for the federal Environment Ministry under the Progressive Conservatives, resigning in 1988.

By 1989, May was named the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada a post she held onto until she stepped down in 2006 to run for the leadership of the Green Party. May ran in a federal by-election that same year, and again in the 2008 federal election, placing second both times. May relocated to Sidney in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding prior to the 2011 election, where she defeated Conservative Gary Lunn with 46 per cent of the vote.

This time, however, May said the party’s chances appear greater to win more seats in more ridings.

“Poll numbers are up, our donations are up and more of our candidates are seeing increases in support,” she said, referencing the reaction from her performance in the Macleans Magazine Leadership Debate early in the campaign.

As a leader outside of Canada’s big-three political parties, May admitted it’s a battle to get attention. However, May’s hard work has earned her a platform – and recognition by national media and her peers in Ottawa as a top parliamentarian.

“I’ve always tried to set a standard for being tough and listening,” she said. “It helps get people watching.”

Now in her third federal election campaign, May stays grounded by returning home to Sidney often and  has her daughter Cate May-Burton with her every step of the way.

 

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