In the wake of John Horgan’s departure from the legislature, first as premier and then as MLA, the stage is finally set for a Langford-Juan de Fuca byelection that will serve as a litmus test for B.C.’s major political parties following several high-profile shake-ups.
Leader Kevin Falcon revealed the party’s candidate for Langford-Juan de Fuca’s byelection on Wednesday, announcing child autism advocate Elena Lawson will be vying to steal the seat from the BC NDP. He touted Lawson as the ideal candidate for the West Shore riding, calling her experience in both the business and government sectors and strong Langford connections an “asset.”
Lawson, an Esquimalt native and Metchosin resident, is known locally for co-founding the Children’s Autism Federation of BC following her oldest son’s autism diagnosis in 2018. She was one of the voices who fiercely criticized the NDP government in 2021 after it announced its intent to change individualized funding for children with autism, a move that was met with backlash from parents. The government later retracted those plans and said it would maintain the funding while engaging in more consultation with parents and caregivers.
In a BC United statement announcing her candidacy, Lawson took aim at what she described as “the NDP’s empty promises and lack of outcomes” as one reason why she should be the first MLA elected under the BC United banner.
The upcoming byelection represents BC United’s first major test under its new name and colours. The party revealed its first rebrand after more than a century last month, saying it aims to reflect the political, geographical, social, and cultural diversity throughout the province.
- Read more about BC United candidate Elena Lawson here.
NDP, Greens also fielding well-known figures in byelection
Just as the Langford-Juan de Fuca byelection serves as a test for BC United, it will also give a glimpse as to how the NDP fares under Horgan’s successor, Premier David Eby.
Candidate Ravi Parmar, a long-serving Sooke School District Board Chair, launched his campaign on April 12.
A local figure known for his community advocacy, Parmar has overseen what he described in a candidacy announcement as the largest expansion of public education in the district’s history. He also played a key role in the development of a new post-secondary university in Langford.
At the age of 22, he was elected as the youngest chair on record in not just Vancouver Island, but all of the province.
Parmar has said he hopes to build on Horgan’s record, aiming to improve transportation infrastructure, protect the environment, and promote local small businesses.
- Read more about BC NDP candidate Ravi Parmar here.
Running for the Green Party is Camille Currie, founder and President of Canada Pacific Health Care Matters Society and a Langford small business owner.
Currie has been recognized for her work in health care with an Excellence in Health Promotion award from Doctors of B.C. and says she aims to revolutionize the B.C. health-care system to ensure high-quality care with no barriers to access.
She is also known for launching a campaign to pressure the B.C. government to take drastic action on the ongoing family doctor shortage, using rallies and lawn signs to spread the message “Everyone deserves a family doctor.”
- Read more about Green Party candidate Camille Currie here.
The BC Conservative Party now holds a seat in the legislature thanks to former Liberal MLA John Rustad’s ouster from caucus and subsequent adoption of the Conservative banner, and it hopes to double that with declared candidate Mike Harris.
The Langford resident is a realtor and journeyman carpenter and previously co-owned a small business with his wife that was forced to close during the pandemic, according to a party statement.
In recent years, he has served as a regional director for the Conservatives and has voiced concerns about housing affordability and lack of adequate transportation options in the area, positioning himself as an advocate for ordinary working people.
- Read more about Conservative Party candidate Mike Harris here.
A date has not yet been set for the byelection, which must be called by Sept. 30, 2023.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that the Conservative Party of BC had no seats in the legislature. It does in fact hold one seat as MLA and Party Leader John Rustad joined the party after he was elected as a BC Liberal and later removed from caucus. We regret the error.