As you’ve probably heard, Denise Savoie has resigned as the New Democrat MP for Victoria. A few things to note:
- Ms. Savoie has held the riding since the 2006 election, winning the past three elections with a solid plurality of votes. Prior to that, it was held by Liberal David Anderson, who came in when Jean Chrétien became the PM in 1993.
- She’s been a solid performer in Parliament, serving as her party’s critic for intergovernmental affairs, post-secondary education and human resources. Since June 2011 she’s also been the deputy speaker. You could say that she’s well-respected from all sides of the House.
- Ms. Savoie has only stated her resignation is due to a “health warning” from her doctor. That she wouldn’t elaborate further is a rebuke to those who argue that politicians should disclose their health conditions to the public, and that’s probably a good thing; in 2011, there would simply be no way for her to know or suspect that she couldn’t carry out her mandate. Precognition is not a job requirement for a politician.
Obviously, the question of who replaces her is an open one. Since Mr. Anderson was a former cabinet minister in the Chrétien government, the Liberals would obviously consider this one of their “boutique” ridings, one they want back due to its history, but their current circumstances means candidate recruitment would be an issue. And six years is also enough time for the NDP locals to have their roots sunk in, and Ms. Savoie could probably have a say both in who her replacement should be and how much support the voters should give.
Since she’s leaving with a lot of goodwill, it’s safe to say that come the by-election, Victoria should stay in the orange column. The only way that would change is if one of the other parties nominates a huge “star” candidate — and, given Victoria’s usual left-wing outlook and BC’s current level of popular support for anything labelled “Liberal,” such a candidate ain’t likely to happen.