David Eby resists early vote in B.C. despite big byelection wins for NDP

David Eby resists early vote in B.C. despite big byelection wins for NDP
B.C. Premier David Eby speaks during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, June 26, 2023. Eby says he has no interest in calling an early election in British Columbia, despite resounding victories for NDP candidates in a pair of byelections over the weekend.

There will not be an early provincial election in British Columbia despite resounding victories for New Democrat Party candidates in a pair of byelections over the weekend, Premier David Eby said on Monday.

When asked about the possibility of calling an election this fall after his party’s candidates won handily in the ridings of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Langford-Juan de Fuca, Eby said he has no interest in doing so.

READ MORE: BC NDP win two byelections, Ravi Parmar elected in Langford-Juan de Fuca

“We won’t be calling an early election. We’re gonna go to the fixed-date election.”

Eby said the victories of Joan Phillip in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Ravi Parmar in Langford-Juan de Fuca reflected the quality of NDP’s candidates in each race.

He said speaking with voters during the byelection campaign affirmed his intentions of sticking with the fixed date of October 2024 for the next general election.

“We talked to a lot of people,” Eby said. “Not one person said, ‘I really hope you call a general election soon.’ People are not excited about that. They want us to take on the hard issues, and we’re going to do that work.”

Phillip secured Vancouver-Mount Pleasant with 68 per cent of the vote, while Parmar was elected with 53 per cent in Langford-Juan de Fuca, former premier John Horgan’s old riding.

Opposition BC United candidates struggled, finishing fourth on Vancouver Island with just nine per cent of the vote, and a distant second in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, with 13.7 per cent.

The Conservative Party of B.C. claimed second place in Langford-Juan de Fuca with 20 per cent of the vote, prompting leader John Rustad to declare that the party is ready to “pick up the mantle of the centre-right coalition.”

Eby declined to comment on the situation developing between the opposition parties, saying that while his party’s candidates did “exceptionally well” on Saturday, the NDP should not be “sidetracked into partisan politics concerns.”

He cited health care, housing, addictions, homelessness and cost of living as ongoing issues that need addressing, rather than launching an early election campaign.

“If we stay focused on the core priorities of British Columbians, we will do well in elections,” he said.

The premier also said he does not object to seeing Rustad invited to future leaders’ debates when a provincial election does take place.

Saturday’s byelections represented the first test for BC United under its new name after switching away from the B.C. Liberal Party earlier this year.

The standings in the 87-seat B.C. legislature will be: NDP at 57; BC United with 27; Green Party at two; with one Independent.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 26, 2023.

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