Winds of change brewing in fall election races?

There are at least two reasons why it is not too early to begin speculating what our local elections might look like in November.

First, while November seems to be a long time away, the election date will creep up on us very quickly and any candidate serious about winning in the polls had better be doing some serious thinking now.

Second, and much more importantly, Jean Crowder’s decision not to seek re-election as Member of Parliament has stirred things up more than a little.

There are three local politicians who are now seriously considering a run to win the seat — two are federal Conservatives and the third is a New Democrat.

First the New Democrat — Ian Morrison — currently the CVRD director for Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls.

Morrison has been telling supporters since last December that he intends to run again as the CVRD director.

At that time it was understood he was angling to take over as the NDP candidate to replace Bill Routley as MLA for Cowichan Valley in the provincial election scheduled for May 2017. Morrison had been Routley’s campaign manager in the last provincial election.

Crowder’s constituency assistant Alistair MacGregor has already announced he will be seeking the NDP nomination to replace her but Morrison is known to be beating the bushes behind the scene to see if he can garner enough support to make a nomination run worthwhile.

The race got more crowded this week with the announcement that Hilary Abbott, son of prominent federal Liberal Tony Abbott, would be seeking the NDP nomination.

If Morrison does win the nomination contest, which will likely take place this year, would he also run for re-election as a CVRD director?

Meanwhile, North Cowichan councillor John Koury has made no secret of his intention to seek the mayor’s office in November’s local elections, but that is also now up in the air.

Changes recently announced in the federal boundaries for the area covering the Cowichan Valley seem to be favouring the election of a Conservative.

Koury is currently president of the federal constituency association and is said to be seriously considering a run to become an MP, another ambition he has held for years.

Then there is Dr. Martin Barker, currently a City of Duncan councillor.

He is also a federal Conservative and lost a competition with Koury several years ago to be named the Conservative federal candidate.

Barker is vice-president of the Conservative constituency association.  He is serious about getting the nomination himself this time around.

If he wins the nomination, will he seek another term on council?  That’s an open question.

Swinging north to Ladysmith, Mayor Rob Hutchins is undecided about running again but he has no federal plans.  Also the chair of the CVRD, Hutchins says he will make up his mind in time for other potential candidates for mayor to run good campaigns.

This is not the end of the story.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Patrick Hrushowy is a Cowichan writer and political consultant. Email him at

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