Party leaders make waves

Byelection heats up as Victoria candidates gain some star power

Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair (left) joins Victoria byelection candidate Murray Rankin on a campaign tour.

Each of the four major party candidates is hoping a little star power can win over undecided voters in the Nov. 26 Victoria byelection.

The three opposition leaders from the NDP, Liberals and Greens took time to campaign with candidates this week, while Conservative Dale Gann settled for some joint door-knocking with cabinet minister Tony Clement.

Official opposition leader Thomas Mulcair said a win by NDP candidate Murray Rankin would help set up an “epic battle” in the 2015 general election.

Mulcair said the NDP will fight for sustainable federal health-care funding, restore robust environmental review processes and hold Old Age Security eligibility at 65 years of age.

The Conservatives pledged in March to raise OAS eligibility to 67 years of age for anyone under 55.

“People are going to be faced with a choice they’ve never had before in Canadian politics,” Mulcair said, calling the Harper government “aloof, cut off and arrogant.”

On his way to a Remembrance Day ceremony Sunday at the legislature, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae praised candidate Paul Summerville for his “great knowledge of what’s happening in the world economy” and his strong opposition to the proposed secondary sewage treatment project for the Capital Region.

The Liberals have been outspoken on issues like legalizing marijuana and reforming the criminal justice and electoral systems, he said.

Rae, who will not be seeking the Liberal leadership in 2013, said Ottawa needs fresh faces and renewed genuine debate.

“Messages are being repeated and people are marketing themselves as if they’re a brand of soup, and (politicians) are selling themselves in that way, but also dissing the other products on the market,” Rae said. “And one of the things that amount of negativity does is it creates a sense of antagonism.”

He added that he hopes to see younger candidates vying for federal office in the future.

At a press conference Monday, Green candidate Donald Galloway and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May called on byelection candidates to jointly oppose any oil pipeline expansion, including the twinning of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline to the Burrard Inlet in Burnaby.

“If you care about the environment, you can’t cherry pick the projects you oppose when they are all alike,” May said in a statement.

The Greens will host David Suzuki Nov. 19 at the Victoria Conference Centre, while the Liberals plan to showcase crowd-pleaser and leadership-hopeful Justin Trudeau Nov. 21 at the University of Victoria.

Follow the Victoria byelection on Twitter at #yyjbyelxn.

See Our View, page A10.

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