B.C. Liberals pick businessman Tony Harris for key Nanaimo byelection
A win for Liberals in crucial byelection could upset balance of power in legislature
Nanaimo businessman Tony Harris will be the B.C. Liberal candidate in an upcoming byelection that could have implications for the balance of power in the legislature.
The Nanaimo seat will be left open when NDP MLA Leonard Krog resigns, which he is expected to do at the end of the month.
Krog was sworn in as the mayor of Nanaimo this week, but is staying on as MLA until the end of the legislative session to help ensure the minority NDP government can pass legislation.
The Harris family is well known and has been operating businesses in Nanaimo for several generations.
During the announcement on Wednesday, Harris took aim at a number of NDP policies he says are hurting businesses the city, including the employer health tax and the speculation tax on real estate.
"Don't be fooled by the rhetoric that it's only rich developers that are complaining. That it only impacts their pocket," he said.
"This tax hurts our economy. It hurts Nanaimo and it puts our jobs at risk."
B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson travelled to Nanaimo for the announcement.
"Nanaimo residents have a clear choice in a candidate who is looking toward the future, has deep roots in the community and the know-how to effect positive change," he said in a statement.
No date yet for byelection
The Liberals do have a nomination process for candidates, but the party said Harris is the only name that has been put forward and he will be the candidate.
Harris is expected to face Sheila Malcolmson as the NDP candidate. The Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP has announced her intention to seek the nomination from the provincial party for the race.
The Greens are also seeking to run a candidate.
A victory for the Liberals could upset the balance of power in the legislature.
If the NDP lose the seat, both the NDP-Green partnership and the Liberals will be even at 43 seats — a scenario widely expected to be unstable and lead to an early general election.
A date has not been set for the byelection, but a campaign is expected in January.
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