Supported by B.C. premier John Horgan, Sheila Malcolmson launched her byelection race in Nanaimo on Saturday – and the one time MP and four-time municipal politician is well aware that every handshake counts.
“We are in the campaign of our lives,” the Nanaimo byelection NDP candidate told Global News.
Malcolmson is running to replace long-time Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog, who resigned the seat to become the city’s mayor.
Krog knows the future of the provincial government is at stake in the January 30 showdown.
“It’s about whether the good people of Nanaimo really want to have the possibility of a general election thrust upon the people of British Columbia,” the Nanaimo mayor told Global News.
If the Liberals win the seat, it will upset the NDP/Green majority creating a tie in the B.C. legislature. Speaker Darryl Plecas would be required to break any deadlocks – including confidence votes.
“We know the stakes are extremely high. The whole eyes of the whole province are all focused on Nanaimo and that lends a special intensity to the campaign,” said Malcolmson.
WATCH: NDP government calls critical Nanaimo byelection
Horgan told the crowd gathered at Malcolmson’s campaign launch that no seats are safe, even in the historically NDP stronghold.
“Every vote matters and you can’t take anything for granted.”
The Liberals are hoping to stake a claim with candidate Tony Harris. The son of late businessman Tom Harris is campaigning for governments to get on board with a Nanaimo foot passenger ferry.
“There’s already players that have a business plan in place,” Harris told Global News.
The former Harbourlynx fast ferry service between Nanaimo harbour and downtown Vancouver sank in debt in 2006 but Harris says the city has matured enough to support a new passenger ferry venture.
“The citizens of Nanaimo need quick transportation to downtown Vancouver from downtown Nanaimo without bringing the car along,” he said.
Harris and Malcolmson face Green candidate Michele Ney, the daughter of long-time mayor Frank Ney. She is expected to launch her byelection campaign on Sun. Jan. 6.
If the NDP can’t pull off a win, a Liberal victory would likely force an early general election.