Leonard Krog speaks to the media at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Saturday night after being elected mayor. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Premier promises Nanaimo byelection before February budget debate

Historically safe NDP seat will be vacated by longtime MLA Leonard Krog

The B.C. NDP’s hold on government becomes more precarious with longtime 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. During a scrum today at the legislature building, Horgan said Nanaimo will have an MLA in place in time to debate the budget in February.

Krog was elected mayor in a landslide with more than 20,000 votes, more than three times as many as runner-up Don Hubbard.

“I will be resigning my seat in due course and obviously that was the commitment I made,” Krog said Saturday night.

His departure will bring 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.

RELATED: Krog voted in as Nanaimo’s next mayor

“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 fundraising e-mail 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.

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In a statement to Black Press Media on 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


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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