British Columbia

B.C. election rumours swirl

Both major political parties in B.C. appear to be getting ready for an election as early as September. In Victoria, political staffers working for the the New Democrats and the Liberals have been asked to finish their vacations before mid-August, possibly to clear the decks for a fall vote.
Both the provincial Liberals and New Democrats are gearing up for a potential election as early as September, the CBC's Stephen Smart reports 1:43

Both major political parties in B.C. appear to be getting ready for an election as early as September.

In Victoria, the New Democrats' and the Liberals' political staffers have been  asked to finish their vacations  before mid-August, possibly to clear the decks for a fall vote.

The NDP have already started nominating candidates and hope to have a full slate by early September.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark was sworn in at Government House in Victoria in March. ((Government House))
The preparations are reportedly generated by Premier Christy Clark's wish for a fresh mandate from the electorate, although Clark has not admitted that ambition since winning the Liberal leadership in February.

"I think what's driving it is, one, her desire to have her own mandate," said Victoria lobbyist Mike Geoghegan. "And two, I think there's a fear that she has regarding the B.C. Conservatives getting organized, splitting the vote and the NDP getting in."

HST referendum a question mark

However. Clark told inquiring reporters Wednesday that she has one big priority this summer.

"We'll wait till we get to the end of this HST referendum and get that out of the way before we start thinking about any election," Clark said.

The outcome of the binding referendum — to be announced before the end of August — could determine the premier's course of action.

A vote to keep the HST could embolden her to ask voters for a new four-year mandate.

It's not clear how a vote instead to return to the GST and PST system would affect election plans.

James to run again

B.C. NDP president Moe Sihota thinks that despite nervousness in the Liberal camp, Clark might seek an election no matter what.

B.C. NDP Moe Sihota thinks Clark wants to seek an election this year. CBC
"I think there's a lot of trepidation within her own caucus but she's made up her mind: She wants to go," Sihota told CBC News.

Whenever B.C. voters end up going to the polls, former B.C. New Democrat leader Carole James will be in the running.

James announced late Wednesday she will again defend her seat in Victoria-Beacon Hill, which she has held since 2005.

James quit the leadership last December amidst a feud about her leadership within the NDP caucus. She was succeeded by Adrian Dix.

The next scheduled B.C. provincial election is for May 2013, but a premier can ask the lieutenant governor to call an election at any time.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies

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