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B.C. federal Green Party candidate says voters will be ‘surprised’

Former CBC meteorologist Claire Martin, left, announces her intention to seek the Green Party nomination for North Vancouver in the federal election, as leader Elizabeth May listens during a news conference in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 8, 2015. She expected to be acclaimed by the party later in the day.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian PRess

Claire Martin, who became famous as a CBC weather forecaster, is the first to concede her debut as a federal Green Party candidate will shock viewers who watched her for years in a high-profile and non-partisan role on The National from 2005 to 2014.

"They will be as surprised as I am," Ms. Martin quipped on Wednesday as she made her debut as the party's candidate for North Vancouver during a news conference on Burrard Inlet's shores.

But Ms. Martin, who declared she has voted Green for a decade, said the Green Party is a welcoming place for a scientist such as her, given its embrace of science. "To me, it's a natural move for me but it does still feel kind of awkward," she said.

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She is a star candidate for a party that pollster Frank Graves says could win as many as three seats in B.C. – a province where the Greens have support on Vancouver Island and in the Interior region.

In an interview on Wednesday, the president of Ekos Research said the party could eke out wins thanks to tight four-way races in key areas of the province. However, he said the party lacks the money and expertise to get its vote out to the polls, especially when compared with its rivals.

"They need a ground game and some political smarts. That's a precondition for winning," he said.

Ms. Martin said she kept her politics off the air at CBC out of respect for her role. "It would have been an abuse of my being on air." But things have changed.

One of her political assets, she said, is her likeability.

"People trust me. That's why [federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May] came to me at the very beginning. I think, quite frankly, that's how I built a career. I was not trained to be on TV. But I won people over by being honest and a little bit likeable."

Ms. May, who appeared with Ms. Martin, said the new candidate would be acclaimed in the riding on Wednesday night.

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The Green Leader said she wrote to Ms. Martin after her departure from the CBC in 2014, declaring she would be a great MP.

Ms. May is one of two current Green MPs. "For voters in North Vancouver, the choice is Claire," she said.

But Ms. Martin, now managing director for a film and TV production company, forecasted an "uphill battle" to win the riding Conservative MP Andrew Saxton won with 49 per cent of the vote in 2011.

The Liberals came second with 30 per cent and the NDP third with 16 per cent.

The Greens ran fourth with 5 per cent.

Ms. Martin said two key issues are making sure the riding has a robust shipbuilding sector with a reasonable carbon footprint and fighting climate change – an issue she said is as obvious as the lack of snow on mountains in the area. "It's made climate change very real for North Vancouverites."

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In a statement, Mr. Saxton saluted Ms. Martin.

"I welcome Claire as a candidate in the upcoming election.

"Anyone who puts their name forward for public office should be commended."

The Liberal Party of Canada has nominated businessman Jonathan Wilkinson.

The NDP has nominated Carleen Thomas, a former teacher and 18-year council member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, as its candidate.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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