British Columbia

MLA seat up for grabs after New Democrat moves into Nanaimo City Hall

When NDP MLA Leonard Krog resigns to take his place as the new mayor of Nanaimo it will trigger a byelection that could shift the balance of power in the provincial legislature.

Leonard Krog's resignation could shift balance of power in B.C. legislature

Leonard Krog reacts to voting results at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo on Oct. 20, 2018. (Dean Stoltz)

With the election of NDP MLA Leonard Krog as the mayor of Nanaimo, political parties are gearing up to fill the legislative seat he will give up when he takes the reins at city hall. 

When Krog resigns, it will trigger a byelection that could change the power dynamic in the provincial legislature.

The NDP and Green Party have a combined 44 MLAs in the B.C. Legislature. If a B.C. Liberal candidate wins the Nanaimo byelection, the Liberals will be able to block provincial legislation.

This, in turn could trigger a provincial election.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says he expects Premier John Horgan will try to persuade Krog to remain in his seat until the current legislative session ends at the end of November in a bid to retain the NDP's upper hand.

Wilkinson said his party has begun interviewing potential LIberal candidates and would like to see a byelection happen sooner rather than later. 

Traditional NDP turf

University of Victoria political scientist Michael Prince said Horgan has six months to call a byelection but will will likely call it in January or early February.

Prince said Nanaimo has traditionally supported the NDP and Horgan will want to get another NDP MLA elected before the provincial budget is voted on in the legislature sometime in February.

"It's a fairly strong, safe NDP riding and has been for a long time," said Prince. "I don't think they'll take that for granted but they'll want to make sure they get another NDP MLA representing the Nanaimo area as soon as possible."

Leonard Krog will take the reins as the mayor of Nanaimo and resign as an NDP MLA for the Vancouver Island city. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Nanaimo has voted NDP in 13 of the last 15 provincial elections, but Wilkinson is optimistic. He said his party's stance against the NDP's speculation tax could be attractive to area voters.

"It's a lot of work but we took it in 2001... we'll be working hard."

The Green Party said it will also run a candidate in Nanaimo's byelection.

Krog in control

For now, Krog is still in the MLA role and has not said when he will officially resign.

"The day of the resignation will come soon enough," said Krog. 

Krog won nearly 73 per cent of the vote in the municipal election. He said he hopes to get Nanaimo back on track and focus on good governance at city hall. 

For the past two years, Nanaimo's city hall has been wracked by infighting — including a lawsuit the city filed against previous mayor Bill McKay, investigations by RCMP and special prosecutors, as well as the departures of more than three dozen city staff.

Just two incumbent councillors, Sheryl Dawn Armstrong and Ian Thorpe, were re-elected.

"I can't fix the past but I can move us forward into the future," said Krog.

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