As we head into the New Year, British Columbia faces a rather uncertain political future.
We could indeed be on the verge of an early election in 2019 and here’s why. Here are the current party standings at the Legislature: 42 seats for the BC Liberals; 40 for the NDP; 3 Greens; 1 independent (Speaker Darryl Plecas) — and one vacant seat following the resignation of Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who left to become the city’s mayor.
At present, the combined votes and the NDP and the Green Party outnumber the Opposition BC Liberals by only one vote.
The Nanaimo by-election, expected to be held in late January of early February, will be crucial. Nanaimo is a traditional NDP stronghold since 1963, with the only exceptions being Social Credit MLA Frank Ney from 1969 to 1972 and BC Liberal Mike Hunter from 2001 to 2005.
Generally speaking though, sitting governments in B.C. tend to lose byelections (10 out of the last 12 dating back to 1981) and this is entirely possible considering there are some pretty high profile names running in Nanaimo.
Running for the BC Liberals is popular candidate Tony Harris, who comes from a well-known business family. Perhaps an even more well-known candidate is retired teacher Patricia Ney, daughter of legendary mayor Frank Ney, who was also Nanaimo’s MLA.
This spells trouble for the NDP who tend to split their vote with the Green Party. If Harris is the successful candidate, all votes at the Legislature would be tied, with the deciding vote being cast by Speaker Darryl Plecas.
And this is where the government begins to teeter because Plecas has embroiled himself in considerable hot water, threatening to resign if British Columbians don’t “vomit” once the details of his controversial removal of the top two senior managers (under mysterious circumstances) is eventually revealed in January.
Hold onto to your seatbelts everyone, this is going to be a rough ride.
Dan Davies is MLA for Peace River North.