Premier Christy Clark to run in byelection in Vancouver-Point Grey on May 11
By ROB SHAW, Timescolonist.com April 13, 2011
Premier Christy Clark says she intends to sit as an MLA in the legislature this spring by holding a byelection in Vancouver-Point Grey on May 11.
Clark, only the second person in B.C. history to become premier without holding a seat in office, launched her election bid with a press conference in Vancouver Wednesday.
"I don't think British Columbians want an unelected premier without a mandate," she said.
"So one of the first things I have to do is seek a seat in the legislature and be there when we are debating legislation and passing legislation that affects everybody across the province."
Election timelines mean Clark, if victorious, could squeeze into the legislature during the final few days of her government's planned spring session, April 27 to June 2.
The formal start of her election bid appears to end weeks of speculation about whether she would call a byelection or plunge the province into an early general election later this year.
Clark, who has been accused of dragging her feet on running for office since she won the party leadership on Feb. 26, said she wanted to put her families first program into action through a minimum wage hike, gaming grants boost and B.C. Hydro rate review.
"I wanted to be sure I got off to a good start before I decided to seek a seat in the legislature," she said.
Clark will run in the riding formerly held by Gordon Campbell, who quit as premier last November and resigned as MLA on March 15.
Campbell's deeply unpopular decision to implement the harmonized sales tax ultimately cost him his job. The future of the tax will be decided by a referendum in June.
Clark acknowledged having to run a campaign that faces up to previously unpopular decisions by the Liberals while attempting to highlight her agenda for change.
"I think British Columbians recognize that I am a new leader for the province. This is a different government. We are doing things very differently. I don't think that amounts to a free pass. I think it's going to mean a lot of hard work."
Her campaign manager is Colin Hansen, the longtime MLA in neighbouring Vancouver-Quilchena and also the finance minister responsible for the HST. Clark booted Hansen from cabinet last month.
The Opposition NDP had launched a fundraising campaign to challenge Clark in the riding weeks ago.
Its candidate, B.C. Civil Liberties Association Executive Director David Eby, announced his bid via Twitter Wednesday.
Eby's entry shows the NDP is running more than a token campaign, said veteran political scientist Norman Ruff.
"It will be an interesting test," Ruff said. "It will be a kind of mini-referendum on [Clark's] leadership."
It is risky to hold a byelection while the house is in session because it gives the Opposition ample time to criticize her absence, Ruff said.
"She could have avoided this embarrassment by calling the byelection previously," he said.
A byelection is typically a 51-day event, including 28 days of campaigning and more than three weeks to count and validate results.
Elections B.C. spokesman Don Main said a return of the official writ could be June 2, with Clark sworn in the following day.
But it is possible to shave up to 10 days off that timeline if there is no judicial recount and if absentee ballots are counted quickly, said Main.
The byelection is expected to cost about $500,000.