VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Depending on who wins the BC Liberal leadership race, at least one more byelection could follow the Valentine’s Day vote to fill a vacancy left when former Premier Christy Clark resigned last year.
Todd Stone, Michael Lee, Andrew Wilkinson, Mike de Jong and Sam Sullivan already have seats in the Legislature, so UBC Political Scientist Allan Tupper says Dianne Watts won’t be able to accomplish much until she’s also an MLA.
“I don’t think people take too kindly to party leaders who stay outside for a long time. I mean, you’ve got to get into that fray, you’ve got to engage in that institution. It’s a core one. It’s the legislative body and it’s the one that you will lead if you become premier.”
He adds a sitting Liberal will have to step down to make it possible for the former mayor of Surrey, who most recently served as a Conservative MP, to become an MLA.
“It’s a circumstance beneficial to the NDP because a leaderless Liberal party is just going to have to be in that position until that leader establishes himself or herself in the public eye.”
Even so, Tupper feels that’s a weak argument against Watts who, as the only outsider in the race, has support from Liberals tired of the status quo. “Some might argue that, but I couldn’t think it would be seen as very powerful. If you think you need a change, you’re going to have to make a change.”
He adds Wilkinson, de Jong, Lee, Sullivan or Stone could also force a byelection if they lose to Watts on February 3rd and choose to step down as MLAs.