New federal riding boundaries in the central Island aren’t causing a lot of grief for local Liberals, says the president of the Nanaimo-Alberni riding association.
In an interview, Mike McDowall said the formation of the new ridings of Courtenay-Alberni, Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Vancouver Island North-Comox-Powell River will likely prove an irresistible draw for leader Justin Trudeau and inject new vitality in a party that hasn’t been a contender in the area for many years.
“With the new ridings it could have a big impact,” he said. “With a popular candidate I would hope we would be contenders.”
He said the party is currently gearing up for the shakeup and while nobody has come forward to carry the party banner in 2015, McDowall said he plans to have a candidate in place well before writ is dropped.
“We are just doing the feeling-out process,” he said. “Nobody has come forward formally. We’re going through the back channels to see who might be interested. Our feeling is there are quite a few people who will not be so hesitant to call themselves a federal Liberal and we are hoping quite a few people might want to jump aboard the big, red canoe.”
First though, he said local Liberals need to regroup, a process he said is already underway.
“The first thing we have to deal with is the riding change,” he said. “We’ll be going through that over the next few months and from there we’ll have to focus on putting new riding associations together.”
He noted Nanaimo-Alberni Liberals have already begun to meet with their counterparts in the new areas that will be included in the new boundaries, in order to get a feeling for who they might have to work with.
He said the March leadership process injected new life into the party.
“We definitely bolstered our ranks,” McDowall said. “We added about another 15 to 20 per cent to our membership, but what was really exciting was the supporter category. In our entire riding we had about 500-plus people come out. A lot of them were probably new Liberals.”