Local MLAs ready for possible snap election call

All three Nanaimo-area MLAs say they are prepared to run again if a provincial election is called.

All three Nanaimo-area MLAs say they are prepared to run again if a provincial election is called.

While the next scheduled election is legally slated for May 2013, it is expected Liberal Premier Christy Clark will call an election as early as Sept. 6 to build her own mandate, if she wins the job back.

If an election is called, voters could head to the polls in early October.

Ron Cantelon, Liberal MLA for Parksville-Qualicum currently in his second term, said he still has plenty of work to do to serve his constituents.

“I’ll absolutely run again. We need to work on the health centre in Parksville and see it come to fruition, though it’s headed that way,” said Cantelon, reached while on vacation. “I still want to work with partners in the municipalities with the projects they’re working on. In Nanaimo that means furthering the cruise ship terminal and the airport projects, but I’d like to try to help with the [foot passenger] ferry and a hotel complex.”

Issues that could determine the timing of an election include the result of the HST referendum and whether an agreement with the teachers’ union and other unions currently at the bargaining table can be reached.

“There are few things that aren’t going Christy’s way at the moment, but I will definitely run again, and we’re preparing for [an election] to be sure we’re ready for anything from September on,” said Doug Routley, NDP MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan. “The premier’s record in dealing with teachers is pretty sketchy and I’m not sure they’re interested in having a conflict like that during a campaign, so there are a few factors that affect timing.”

Routley said he is disappointed legislation requiring fixed election dates can be so easily discarded.

“[The legislation] was supposed to do away with manipulation by the sitting government and that they would set elections on a set schedule rather than tailoring it to their own interests,” said Routley.

Cantelon said it’s unclear when an election might take place.

“We’re on a standby; we always have to be ready. Your guess is as good as mine, but we have two new leaders so there is some concern we need a new mandate. I’m ready to serve to 2013 or go tomorrow.”

Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who serves as the Opposition Critic for the Attorney General, was unavailable for comment this week, but has indicated he will also run again. Krog, first elected in 1991, is currently serving his third consecutive term.



Cantelon steps down as Liberal caucus chairman

After two terms as Liberal caucus chairman, Parksville-Qualicum Liberal MLA Ron Cantelon has stepped away from the position to focus on other projects.

Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg will take over the position after being elected in a secret ballot by fellow Liberal MLAs earlier this week.

“I decided back in June not to run again,” said Cantelon. “I think two terms is about the usual and it’s time to give way to a new face at the head of the table. I’m happy about that.”

Responsibilities for the role include chairing meetings and organizing and managing party resources and staff.

Cantelon said stepping aside will give him more time to work on a growing field of interest to him – alternative uses for wood fibre.

“One committee I’m on at the moment is the forestry committee, which is looking at alternate uses for wood fibre,” said Cantelon. “It’s not just sawmill jobs we lose when our raw logs are shipped overseas. We lose the bio component of the fibre.”

The industry is looking at alternative uses that can replace petroleum products. Nanaimo’s Harmac mill is already creating a fibre used in surgical gowns.

“We need to expand this potential in the same way Calgary has an entire industry built around oil,” said Cantelon.