British Columbia

Critical Nanaimo byelection set for Jan. 30

Although it's a long-shot, an NDP loss and Liberal win would change the balance of power in Victoria.

It's a long-shot, but NDP loss and Liberal win would change balance of power in provincial legislature

Nanaimo byelection candidates: Green Party's Michele Ney, left, Liberal Tony Harris, centre, NDP Sheila Malcolmson, right. (CBC)

A provincial byelection with the potential to upset the balance of power in the B.C. Legislature, has been set for Jan. 30 in the riding of Nanaimo.

The seat became vacant when Leonard Krog resigned on Nov. 20, 2018, after 18 years as an NDP MLA. Krog stepped down after being elected mayor of Nanaimo the month before.  

Retaining the seat is critical if the NDP is to hold the reins of power in Victoria.

Currently, the party has 41 seats and and enjoys the support of three Green MLAs, for a total of 44 seats. The B.C. Liberals currently hold 42 seats. 

But if the Liberals managed to score a long-shot win in Nanaimo, both it and the NDP-Greens would be tied with 43 seats each.

The candidates

NDP Nanaimo-Ladysmith Member of Parliament Sheila Malcolmson is hoping to make the switch from federal to provincial politics. Malcolmson was acclaimed as the party's candidate for the Nanaimo byelection in December. 

The Liberals have nominated well-known Nanaimo businessman Tony Harris, while the B.C. Greens selected Michele Ney, a teacher and daughter of former Nanaimo mayor and provincial MLA Frank Ney. 

The January byelection date means the winner will be sitting in the legislature for the winter legislative session and provincial budget announced in February.

The NDP has won the riding 13 of the last 15 elections, although historically byelections results often go against the ruling party.

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