Calgary-Greenway byelection set for March 22 despite opposition
Vote comes within 'realm of reasonable timing' after MLA's death, premier says while citing personal example
Premier Rachel Notley confirmed Tuesday that the byelection to fill the seat left vacant by Manmeet Bhullar's death will take place on March 22, and justified the decision by citing her own father's death.
Calgary-Greenway constituents will go to the polls in four weeks to elect a new representative after their 35-year-old PC MLA was killed in a highway crash in November.
The NDP have already selected Roop Rai as their candidate, but the opposition parties have yet to hold nomination meetings and have accused the government of calling the byelection too soon.
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Notley, however, said the timing is nothing out of the ordinary in Alberta's history and cited her own father as an example.
Grant Notley served as Alberta NDP leader from 1968 until 1984, when he was killed in a plane crash.
"When my father was the victim of a tragic accident, (then premier) Peter Lougheed called the byelection 96 days after the accident," Notley said.
"This byelection was called 92 days after the accident. So I believe we're within the realm of reasonable timing."
But Jason Nixon, the Wildrose critic for democracy and accountability, said the byelection timing "calls into question this government's commitment to accountability and doing politics differently."
The Wildrose plans to hold its nomination for Calgary-Greenway on Friday, rescheduled from an original meeting date of March 5.
The Alberta Liberals also moved up their candidate selection to Wednesday, from a previously scheduled date of Feb. 29.
The Progressive Conservatives plan to nominate a candidate on Saturday.
The Green Party of Alberta has already selected Thana Boonlert as its candidate and there is no date yet set for an Alberta Party nomination.
Bhullar 'will not be forgotten'
In announcing the byelection, Notley described it as one "we all wish that I didn't have to call."
"The seat was left vacant by a terrible tragedy that shocked and saddened all Albertans," the premier said.
"Manmeet Bhullar was a fierce and tireless advocate for his community and the legacy he left in and outside of the legislature will not be forgotten."