Recent polls show the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding a ‘toss-up’

Recent polls show the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding a ‘toss-up’

If any proof were needed that the Green Party was targeting the hotly-contested Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding, it could be found on the first campaign day of the federal election.

Green Party candidate David Merner was driving to Sooke from his office in Esquimalt and the first indication of the election were signs – all from the Green Party. No other party had signs up until the next day.

“We have a really good shot of winning here,” mused Merner at the time.

Polls show that Merner has an edge in the race over NDP incumbent Randall Garrison. It’s a battleground replicated across Vancouver Island where Greens are hoping to flip NDP seats green.

The Greens received a boost last May when the party won the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, and, more importantly, where the NDP dropped to third place.

It was the first time in years the riding, located in a basin of huge labour support, flipped.

“We looked at that and said, ‘If we can win in Ladysmith then we can certainly win here,’” Merner said.

But while the polls are showing a “toss up” of who could take the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke seat, Garrison said that’s not what he or his volunteers are seeing when door-knocking or telephoning voters.

“We don’t have any evidence of drifting NDP support or any big surge in Green support,” said Garrison who was first elected in 2011 and won the riding by more than 5,200 votes in 2011.

“They targeted us [in the last election] and finished third.”

Climate change is a big issue with residents in the riding, said Merner, who ran as a Liberal in 2015.

“Climate change is a critical issue. I hear it on the doorsteps everyday. That’s going to affect how people vote,” he said.

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