MLA's rumoured mayoral bid could cost NDP its edge in legislature
Published Monday, June 11, 2018 4:10PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, June 11, 2018 4:24PM PDT
Rumours are swirling that a longtime MLA from Vancouver Island wants to run for mayor of Nanaimo, a move that could cost the NDP-Green alliance its razor-thin majority in the legislature.
The NDP's Leonard Krog is holding an event in his Nanaimo riding Wednesday evening, but has refused to comment on whether he'll be announcing a mayoral bid.
"I have nothing to announce at this time. Please stay tuned," Krog said on Twitter Monday.
Things have been messy at Nanaimo City Hall for months, with the municipal government marked by volatile council meetings and public fights. In February, the former city manager was arrested for allegedly threatening Mayor Bill McKay and a councillor.
Many residents are hoping for more stability and less strife, and Merv Unger, who spent decades as a journalist and six years as a Nanaimo city councillor, said Krog would almost certainly be a frontrunner if he threw his hat into the ring.
“He’s definitely a heavyweight when it comes to politics,” Unger said. “He’s served in the legislature for 18 years, so he’s got that background, and he’s always been very high-profile in the community.”
The NDP and Greens currently control a combined 44 seats in B.C.'s 87-seat legislature, with the Liberals holding 42. The final seat belongs to independent Darryl Plecas, who was kicked out of the BC Liberals after accepting the job of Speaker.
Krog wouldn't be forced to resign as MLA if elected mayor, but the island native, who was first elected to the Parksville-Qualicum riding 27 years ago and was passed over for an NDP cabinet position this summer, would likely give up his seat anyway.
That would force Premier John Horgan to call a byelection, which sitting governments rarely win. And a victory by the BC Liberals would make the party tied for seats with the NDP-Green alliance, raising concerns about the government's ability to manage the legislature.
As Speaker, Plecas can vote to break ties, but the tiebreaker role is traditionally used to maintain the status quo and continue debate.
NDP insiders told CTV News they don't believe Krog would do anything to jeopardize the government, and they're confident the party will hold onto his seat.
The riding also happens to be an NDP stronghold, having only gone to the Liberals once in the past 30 years. Mike Hunter won the seat back in 2001, the year the NDP was wiped out of all but two ridings in the province.
But given the circumstances, a byelection in Nanaimo would still be a race to watch.
“You can be sure all parties will be throwing all of their resources into this riding,” Unger said.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan