Today's by-election in Nanaimo could decide the fate of the entire province

Jan 30 2019, 6:01 pm

It’s voting day.

After a busy fall of municipal elections, it’s understandable to be burnt out of the entire election thing. But, this one is different. With a coalition government in power in Victoria, a by-election in Nanaimo today could decide the fate of the entire province.

That’s right, the province is in Nanaimo’s hands.

So, how’d we get here? In the fall, NDP MLA Leonard Krog vacated his seat to run — and later was elected — as Mayor of Nanaimo. Although an NDP stronghold for years, a Liberal win in Nanaimo would give the Liberals and the combined NDP-Green coalition an equal number of seats at 43. Pushing Darryl Plecas — yes, him, the Speaker and a former Liberal, sitting as an independent — into a tie-breaking position.

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In short, you have the by-election of the century. It’s Nanaimo’s call as to who makes up our government. And, every provincial party is all-in on this campaign.

In the Green corner is Michele Ney, daughter of the former Nanaimo mayor. In the Liberal corner is Tony Harris, a prominent Nanaimo businessman. And, in the NDP corner is a former federal NDP MP, Sheila Malcolmson. Also, joining the campaign is Conservative Justin Greenwood, Libertarian Bill Walker, and Vancouver Island Party Robin Richardson.

You could say “who cares?” but it’s a damn close race. Recent polls in Nanaimo are within the margin of error. This is anyone’s game.

And, more to the point, if the BC NDP carry, the public show their approval for their government’s first year and a half in office. But, if the BC Liberals pull off a surprise win, then the balance of power could tip and it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s to come.

Either way, Victoria is up in the air. And, the rest of the province should be watching.

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