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Eby's baby countdown brings B.C. election campaigning forward

B.C. Premier David Eby speaks during a B.C. NDP campaign event in Vancouver, on Thursday, June 20, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns B.C. Premier David Eby speaks during a B.C. NDP campaign event in Vancouver, on Thursday, June 20, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns
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British Columbia's election is four months away, but Premier David Eby staged a campaign event Thursday in Vancouver ahead of what he says is a personal count down — next week's expected birth of his family's third child.

Eby said he and his wife, Cailey, are expecting a daughter on June 27, so he wanted to make an early start to campaigning for the Oct. 19 election by introducing four New Democrat candidates before taking a break to spend some time with his family.

He said Oct. 19 is B.C.'s fixed election date and June 27 is his family's "fixed date baby."

"So, some of you know what that's a reference to," said Eby. "So, we're expecting a beautiful baby girl. I am taking a bit of time with the family, but these candidates are going to be out there knocking on doors out in the community."

Eby introduced four New Democrat candidates, former broadcaster Randene Neill, Baltej Dhillon, the first RCMP officer to wear a turban on duty, Indigenous leader Michael Moses and Vancouver community support advocate Sunita Dhir.

Eby's early campaign start comes amid open battling between B.C.'s two right-of-centre parties, Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon's BC United and John Rustad's upstart B.C. Conservatives.

Falcon said the party has been stung recently by the loss of caucus members and candidates to Rustad's Conservatives. But these things happen in politics, he said, citing the NDP's loss of former elected members Selina Robinson and Adam Walker.

"Yes, we've lost candidates and MLAs, too," he said. "This kind of thing, unfortunately happens. But when the election rolls around, the public looks around."

Chris Moore, a business leader and former District of Sechelt councillor, announced Wednesday he will no longer represent BC United in the October election in the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding and will instead run as a candidate for Rustad's Conservatives.

Former BC United MLAs Elenore Sturko and Lorne Doerkson recently crossed the floor and said they'll seek re-election as Conservatives.

Prof. David Black, a political communications expert at Greater Victoria's Royal Roads University, said the "extraordinary" events unfolding between the Conservatives and BC United parties has heightened public awareness about the coming election.

People usually tune out politics during the summer months, but the feuding between BC United and the Conservatives is keeping the public's attention on the distant election, said Black.

"The structural realignment we are seeing on the right, I would argue, is bringing British Columbians, making them more attentive to an imminent election in B.C. than might otherwise be the case," Black said.

"People are a little more aware of what's going on, aware of a fall election because of just all the political news, with defections and remarkably candidates nominated for one party saying, 'I'm going to run for the other party.'"

B.C.'s fixed election date law puts governments in permanent campaign mode, which is underway in B.C., he said.

The province was the first in Canada to hold a fixed election date in 2005.

"Given the machinations on the centre-right now and that we are four to five months away from an election, it stands to reason that the B.C. NDP is campaigning," Black said. "I would argue the B.C. NDP campaign began well over a year ago."

Eby told the campaign crowd his government is making progress on health, housing and the economy and he wants that to continue. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2024.

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