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Election 2004: the battle begins

We're going to the polls after Prime Minister Paul Martin announced on Sunday (May 23) that his Liberal government's mandate will end a week into summer.

We're going to the polls after Prime Minister Paul Martin announced on Sunday (May 23) that his Liberal government's mandate will end a week into summer.

The announcement put the candidates running to represent the citizens of Squamish and the federal constituency of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast in campaign mode. Incumbent John Reynolds of the Conservative Party is up against three declared candidates who are all trying for the first time to win a federal election. Others may join the race, as nominations are open until Monday, June 7.

The Liberal candidate is Blair Wilson. The North Shore resident is an accountant who runs a Vancouver restaurant with his brother and father. Wilson, 40, beat out two other Liberals for the nomination.

The New Democratic Party candidate is Nicholas Simons. The Sunshine Coast resident is a social worker and the editor of a small weekly newspaper. Simons also beat two other candidates for his party's nomination.

The Green Party acclaimed Gibsons councillor Andrea Goldsmith as their candidate. Goldsmith is an environmentalist who has worked in a number of fields.

Wilson was the first out of the election gate in Squamish. His election team had many signs up as the election call was being delivered and made an appearance in Squamish the following day as he opened a campaign office on Cleveland Avenue. Wilson is using the former Japanese Culture Centre space, complete with a boxing ring in the back.

On June 21, Wilson and the other candidates are tentatively scheduled to appear in the political equivalent of a boxing ring. The Squamish Chamber of Commerce set that day as candidate debate day in the community. Pending candidate confirmation, the all-candidates' forum is scheduled for the Sea to Sky Hotel between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

The debate will set the stage for Squamish voters as they prepare for the 38th Canadian general election.

The candidates are vying for a slightly altered riding as the federal Electoral Boundary Commission decided late last year to remove Pemberton and Mount Currie from the riding.Whoever is elected to represent the 124,572 people of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast will join 307 other Members of Parliament across Canada.

In the last election, back in 2000, Reynolds took the riding with 47.9 per cent of the votes, was followed by Liberal Ian McKay at 26.7 per cent.

The 1997 election race between Reynolds and Liberal candidate Phil Boname was tighter. Reynolds scored 40 per cent of the votes while Boname picked up 34.5 per cent support.

The Liberals and Reynolds were the only candidates to register double digit support in those two elections.

In preparation for this election, the federal body that oversees elections wants citizens to know that most people are already registered to vote. There are some exceptions and to help people through the election process a number of tools are being put in place.

Wilson's office isn't the only commercial space being used for election purposes in Squamish. Elections Canada set up an office at what used to be the provincial courthouse on Second Avenue.More federal election information is available through the internet at

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