New political party pushing for province of Vancouver Island
Former MP leading charge for an independent Vancouver Island
A newly formed political party would like to see Vancouver Island become Canada's 11th province.
"We would be much better off as an independent province," said party leader Robin Richardson. "This year in 1866 there was a forced merger of the colony of Vancouver Island and the colony of British Columbia. It wasn't the popular wish of either side of the water."
Richardson, a former Conservative MP in 1979-80, is not the first to suggest an independent Vancouver Island. The most recent attempt, a 2013 petition, failed to gain mass support.
Hurdles to Clear
This movement still has a number of hurdles to clear. The first is for the party to get candidates signed up and vetted to run in the May 9, 2017 provincial election.
The Vancouver Island Party has committed to running candidates in all 14 Vancouver Island ridings. Richardson's goal is to "elect 3 or 4" MLAs and use that balance of power to convince the government to announce a referendum.
"Our motto is 'Island first and proud of it.' In return for our support we would ask them [the province] to have a referendum on 2021 just on the island asking the question, 'are you in favour of Vancouver Island becoming a province of Canada: yes or no?" said Richardson.
The Harvard-trained economist moved to Vancouver Island in 1990 and said he has been thinking about the region's independence since then. But freeing the island from British Columbia's grip isn't all the Vancouver Island Party stands for. The party's recently launched website details plans for either free or lowered BC Ferries fees.
The party platform also includes free tuition to island universities for island residents, along with preferential hiring practices for graduates of island institutions. A light rail transit system between Sooke, Langford, Victoria and Sidney is also part of the plan, combined with similar LRT networks between Duncan and Nanaimo.
Premier laughing it off
B.C. Premier Christy Clark laughed off the idea of an independent Vancouver Island when she was asked about it.
"Well, I'll tell you, if they leave British Columbia, they're not going to be getting those LNG revenues," she said at a National Aboriginal Day event at the Royal B.C. Museum.