CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article suggested the rules around byelections are guidelines; an Elections Canada spokewoman noted in an e-mail that “the prime minister was required by law to call the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection no later than July 6.”
Nanaimo-Ladysmith will be better served with an MP than with no MP.
That might be stating the obvious, but until this week, there was no official word one way or another whether the riding was going to have a member of Parliament before the October general election.
Now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the federal byelection for May 6, not quite six weeks away.
Though most candidates say they were expecting a byelection, some believed there was a chance that the Liberals could have ignored the law and held off until Oct. 21, or possibly, as a compromise, called the byelection for Oct. 21 early, giving Nanaimo-Ladysmith a longer campaign period. Instead, we’ll have a byelection, an MP will get a brief few months in his or her position, and then we’ll do it all over again.
With the SNC-Lavalin affair dominating national political headlines, there were a couple of schools of thought: that the negative press might make the Liberals Party doubt its chances in a byelection, or that a byelection might be a chance for the Liberals to focus attention elsewhere. The issue has generated questions about political ethics in business dealings, as well as cynicism and confusion, but at the end of the day, it probably isn’t going to dominate byelection debates on Vancouver Island.
Federal party leaders will be paying attention to Nanaimo-Ladysmith, but they won’t be campaigning here for six straight weeks; it will fall to the candidates here to lead the conversations.
What election fatigue? We’re now entering a byelection campaign during which men and women who wish to be leaders in our region share their ideas about how to make change for the better. We’re under no obligations, rather, what we have before us now are opportunities: to listen, to participate and to vote.