Politics about more than bottom line

Analysts say new MPs will have a chance to make a difference for their ridings

As the election dust settles over the region, political analysts say while challenges lie ahead for the three South Island ridings, there is a silver lining.

“If one’s politics reduce to ‘how much can you get me’ – which I hope it doesn’t – in that sense we didn’t fare well,” said David Black, associate professor with Royal Roads University’s School of Communication and Culture.

But municipalities across the country – regardless if they have a Conservative MP – will feel the sting of service and spending cutbacks, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper looks to trim taxes and reduce the deficit, said Dennis Pilon, University of Victoria political science professor.

Strategically, some Conservatives will want to improve their chances of winning back Saanich-Gulf Islands, or take away Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, he added.

“They’re going to be judicious,” Pilon said. “They’re going to try to offer something tantalizing, but with the promise of more, if one were to play the right way.”

Pilon and Black agree voting is not just about ensuring a riding’s financial security.

“Sure, everybody wants jobs in the local riding, but when people go to vote it’s about how they want to influence the national questions,” said Pilon, who believes South Island residents will be well-represented in Parliament. Residents in the Victoria, Saanich-Gulf Islands and Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca ridings will be rewarded with a different kind of influence, said Black.

Randall Garrison’s upset win over the Conservatives in the Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding will extend the NDP’s influence, said Black, adding Denise Savoie, NDP MP for Victoria, will likely be given a shadow cabinet role.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May will bring national attention to Saanich-Gulf Islands, and showcase what the Greens can do in Ottawa, he said. “May’s conspicuousness – her prominence – may in fact give her a different kind of leverage,” said Black, “We will be a progressive outpost, but I think we will be one that will be noticed … and we will be listened to.”

emccracken@vicnews.com