The B.C. NDP’s hold on government becomes more precarious with long-time MLA Leonard Krog winning election as mayor of Nanaimo.
B.C. legislature rules require that Premier John Horgan call a by-election for Nanaimo within six months of Krog resigning his seat, which he pledged to do if he was successful in the civic election. His departure brings the standings in the legislature to 42 B.C. Liberal seats, 40 held by the NDP and three for the B.C. Greens.
Speaker Darryl Plecas sits as an independent, expelled from the B.C. Liberals for standing for the job and cementing the NDP minority government. Plecas would be required to cast deciding votes if only one NDP or Green MLA is unavailable.
“I will be resigning my seat in due course and obviously that was the commitment I made,” Krog said Saturday night after preliminary results showed he had more than 20,000 votes, with his nearest competitor at fewer than 7,000.
“We haven’t won Nanaimo since 2001, but the city is growing and changing fast – so anything can happen,” Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell said in a B.C. Liberal fund-raising email that went out within minutes of the Nanaimo mayoral result Saturday evening.
B.C. Liberal Party executive director Emile Scheffel said “a number of well-qualified individuals” have already expressed interest in running in the by-election.
In a statement to Black Press Media Sunday morning, Horgan said he was “excited for the people of Nanaimo” to have Krog as mayor.
“He has dedicated his political life to serving that community, and he is exactly the right person for the job ahead,” Horgan said.
The premier remained confident that Nanaimo would stay NDP.
“Nanaimo has a long history of electing New Democrat MLAs and we’re going to work hard, talk to every voter we can, and we won’t take anything for granted.
“I’m certain we’ll gain a strong member of the BC NDP caucus to work for the people of Nanaimo on the issues they care about, like affordable housing, health care, education and child care.”
– with files from Katya Slepian/Black Press Media