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Politics

B.C. election 2017: Courtenay Comox riding

Changes to this riding’s boundaries significantly favour the B.C. Liberals, as it pushes NDP-friendly areas such as Denman and Hornby Islands into other ridings. Those changes essentially remove about 1,000 NDP voters from the riding. Incumbent Don McRae isn’t running, but the B.C. Liberals still have to be considered fairly heavy favourites to hang on here.

In 2013, McRae won by a margin of 46.7 per cent to 36.5 per cent.

In 2009: McRae won this riding over New Democrat Leslie McNabb by over 1,300 votes, 47-42 per cent, replacing former cabinet minister Stan Hagen.

History & Geography: Riding was created in 2015 redistribution, covering most of the former Comox Valley riding. A descendant of the Comox riding that was contested in the first provincial election of 1871. Redistribution has significantly strengthened the B.C. Liberal hold here, as it removed Cumberland, and the islands of Denman and Hornby (all NDP areas of strength) from the riding, effectively taking about 1,000 residents who voted NDP in 2013.

Candidates

BC Liberals – Jim Benniger: A “star candidate’, the recently-retired 19 Wing commander spent spent 31 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and is well-known locally.

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NDP – Ronna-Rae Leonard: A three-term Courtenay City Councillor and former federal NDP candidate, Leonard has worked with at-risk families and seniors in their homes, at the Ombudsman’s Office, and as a researcher, public educator, and project manager for environmental protection organizations in the Comox Valley.

Greens – Ernie Sellentin: A green entrepreneur, he owns and operates a company that specializes in habitat restoration and invasive species consulting. He previously worked in the Texada island quarries and as a logger.

BC Conservatives – Leah Catherine McCulloch: The BC. Conservatives are a mere shadow of the party from the 2013 campaign, when they fielded 56 candidates. In 2017 there are five. It’s a small-government, right-of-centre party.

2017 Stats: Courtenay-Comox

Population (2014): 54,816 (56th)
Population Deviation from Average: 3.2 per cent
Area: 1,584 sq km (31st)
Pop Density: 34.6 (58th)
Average Age: 48 years (8th)
English as Second Language: 8.63 per cent (80th)

Top 3 Second Languages:
German – 1.83 per cent
Dutch – 0.61 per cent
Spanish – 0.34 per cent