More than 21 per cent of the residents are immigrants, and more than 19 per cent are older than 65, making this the riding with the third largest senior population in Canada. The riding has a median age of 48.3, making it the riding with the highest median age in Canada. The average family income is $70,814; unemployment is 5.9 per cent.
Despite the usually close vote between the various parties, the Canadian Alliance, Reform and Conservative parties have consistently won here for the past decade. Since 1953, the riding and its predecessor, Esquimalt-Saanich, have only gone to a non-conservative candidate three times: 1968 to Liberal David Anderson, in 1988 to New Democrat Lynn Hunter, and in 2011 to Green party leader Elizabeth May. The 1988 Conservative loss is attributed to vote splitting between the Progressive Conservatives and the new Reform party.
Its Member of Parliament is Green Party leader Elizabeth May. She was elected in 2011 and is the first Green MP to be elected to the House of Commons. She defeated Conservative Incumbent and cabinet minister Gary Lunn.
The 2012 federal electoral boundaries redistribution concluded that the electoral boundaries of Saanich—Gulf Islands should be adjusted, and a modified electoral district of the same name will be contested in future elections. The redefined Saanich—Gulf Islands loses a small portion of its current territory in the urbanized portion of Saanich to the new district of Saanich—Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca. These new boundaries will be legally defined in the 2013 representation order, which is likely to come into effect upon the call of the 42nd Canadian federal election, scheduled for October 2015. In the unlikely event an election is called prior to April 2014, the current electoral boundaries would remain in effect.
Julian West was selected as the New Democratic Party candidate for the 2008 election, but withdrew after the filing deadline following a scandal. Because of the late withdrawal his name did appear on the ballot.