Parties trying to shore up support as advance voting opens in Nanaimo by-election

Parties trying to shore up support as advance voting opens in Nanaimo by-election

WATCH: The controversy swirling around the B.C. Legislature comes just as the provincial by-election in Nanaimo enters a critical stage. Advance polls open tomorrow. The riding has traditionally been an NDP stronghold but the other parties are trying to change that. Kendall Hanson reports.

Candidates in the January 30th by-election were talking to school board members today, getting a lesson in the district’s needs.

It’s one of Monday’s campaign stops, and an all-candidates meeting set for Monday night as those in the race shore up support.

Advance voting starts Tuesday and those running against the NDP know they’ll need every vote they can get.

“They’ve got to get the vote out and typically a by-election has a low turnout rate so they got to hope that some NDP voters don’t show up,” said Michael Prince, a University of Victoria Political Scientist. “They’ve got to mobilize their bases.”

Sunday, the Liberals released a new ad highlighting the connection between candidate Tony Harris and his late father Tom Harris. Tom Harris’s car ads once made him a local legend.

“We wanted to play on his ads in the 80’s, which people have always enjoyed watching, and take from that a little bit of levity,” said Tony Harris, the Liberal candidate. “I think that’s aligned with the positive uplifting, non-divisive campaign that we’ve been running.”

“A lot of politics is local politics certainly in a by-election,” said Prince. “So anything that helps get out the vote that helps get you name recognition…”

Since 1963 NDP candidates have only lost the riding twice. Despite that track record Sheila Malcolmson says, with a razor-thin NDP minority government, she’s not taking anything for granted.

“This is a pivotal election. The stakes could not be higher. Every vote counts,” said Malcolmson, the NDP candidate. “We’re expecting this to be a close race. We need to work hard as New Democrats to get every vote out.”

Green candidate Michelle Ney says she’s hearing that while people don’t want another provincial election, a vote for her would send a message to the John Horgan government.

“What the Greens will bring forward is stability in the government and accountability ensuring that the leaders of our province are being responsible,” said Ney.

“This is a cliff hanger so this government absolutely has to hold onto that seat,” said Prince. “It gives some hope for the Liberals. It would send a real signal and could mean if the government loses this seat than maybe the possibility of an election is much sooner than later.”

Advance voting opens Tuesday through Sunday, the official day to cast ballots is Wednesday, January 30th.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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