The B.C. Liberals have introduced businessman Tony Harris as their candidate in the upcoming provincial byelection in Nanaimo. NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who was elected mayor of Nanaimo on Oct. 20, has yet to resign from his seat but is planning to do so in the near future.
“Nanaimo has never realized its full potential and that is because for years and years we have sent the same party to Victoria with the same result,” Harris said.
The byelection will receive the attention of the entire province. If Harris is able to win the seat for the Liberals it would mean the legislature is locked in a tie with 43 Liberal MLAs and 40 NDP MLAs working with three Green MLAs.
The NDP are running MP Sheila Malcolmson in the riding. Malcolmson says Harris will have a tough time defending the B.C. Liberals’ record.
WATCH HERE: Premier Horgan announces star candidate in Nanaimo byelection
“Sixteen years of harmful actions by the B.C. Liberals have had a serious impact on the people of Nanaimo,” Malcolmson said. “From the housing crisis to the neglect of our health care needs, the B.C. Liberals have a lot to answer for.
“I’m especially surprised at Tony Harris’ strong opposition to the Speculation and Vacancy Tax. Under the B.C. Liberals, it became so difficult for people to rent or buy housing in Nanaimo. Now they want to stop measures to curb speculation. That would make the housing situation even worse.”
The byelection is expected to take place before the legislature returns in February 2019. Premier John Horgan has promised that a new MLA will be place by the time the budget is debated.
Harris says one of the main priorities for Nanaimo is a cancer treatment centre and new intensive care unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
“Patients shouldn’t be driving over the Malahat to get cancer treatments that they need and deserve. A cancer centre in Nanaimo isn’t just good for Nanaimo, it will benefit all the surrounding communities as well as the north island,” said Harris.
The B.C. Liberals are also in favour of a foot passenger ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver. Harris said there has been an increase in people commuting for work from Nanaimo to Vancouver. He says investors are ready and a business plan is done, but the province needs to step up.
“It shouldn’t take a byelection to get things done in Nanaimo. Nanaimo should matter all of the time, not just when there is political opportunity,” Harris said.
B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson was in Nanaimo on Wednesday to introduce Harris. Residents of Nanaimo should expect to see a lot of Horgan and Wilkinson during the byelection period as they push for votes.
“Ten of our MLAs drove down from Victoria for this,” said Wilkinson. “They will be here with me to make it happen.”