Leaders in the Cowichan Valley are pleased with the political stability in the province that the election of the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson in Nanaimo will likely bring.
Doug Routley, NDP MLA for Nanaimo/North Cowichan, said the by-election on Jan. 30 was seen by many as a referendum on the provincial government.
He said that with Malcolmson’s win in the riding, he and the NDP “feel validated” with the decisions and directions the government has taken since it was elected in May, 2017.
Routley said he went door-to-door in Nanaimo with Malcolmson during the campaign and heard many people tell them they were happy that MSP Premiums have been reduced by 50 per cent for all British Columbians, child-care subsidies have been increased, and affordable-housing issues in Nanaimo were being addressed, among other issues, since the NDP formed government.
“We heard so many things that matter to people by going door-to-door, and we were left feeling upbeat about the work this government is doing,” Routley said.
“The government will now move forward with the project of governing B.C.”
Malcolmson took 49 per cent of the vote in the by-election, while her nearest competitor, Tony Harris, garnered 40 per cent.
The balance in the province’s legislature was at stake in the by-election.
The governing NDP currently maintains a slim minority with the confidence of the B.C. Green Party, but one more Liberal seat would have drawn that party even, which could have led to the fall of the government in a no-confidence vote.
Al Siebring, mayor of North Cowichan, said Malcolmson’s win in the by-election means that another provincial election won’t likely be called anytime soon so, from the perspective of local governments, it gives them a longer horizon to deal with ongoing issues with the present provincial government.
“We’re in the process of working out long-term commitments from this provincial government on such issues as affordable housing, so having the government stable without having to worry about an election call is a positive development,” Siebring said.
Michelle Staples, mayor of Duncan, said the city and the province have been engaging in conversations around many issues important to Duncan, including affordable housing, childcare spaces, addictions and the Island’s railway, and she’s pleased those talks and plans won’t likely be derailed now that there’s little chance the government will fall anytime soon.
“We know that we have some big problems here, and we need to deal with them as quickly as possible, so the election results in Nanaimo means that we can continue those conversations with the government,” Staples said.
“I remain hopeful that these discussions with the province will lead to some real solutions for these issues.”
Ian Morrison, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District, agreed with Siebring and Staples that the fact that B.C. is not “on edge for going to the polls” anytime soon, is very important to local governments.
“We need stability in the province in order to get some very important work done here,” Morrison said.
“We’ve embarked on a transportation study, and other work, in the CVRD that also involve the province, so all this is not at risk by the fall of the government. As well, the people of Nanaimo are blessed with a dedicated and hard-working public servant in Sheila.”