A byelection in Chilliwack-Hope has been called for April 19.
Voters in Port Moody-Coquitlam will also go to the polls on the same date.
Sara McIntyre, the Premier’s director of communications, said the date was chosen to avoid conflicts with Easter holidays, and to allow some degree of resolution to the teachers’ dispute before asking voters to go to the polls.
BC Conservative candidate John Martin said the timing of the byelection wasn’t unexpected, but not for the reasons outlined by the Premier’s spokesperson.
“The Premier pretty much ran out the clock on calling the Port Moody-Coquitlam byelection,” he said.
Clark had to call a byelection in that riding by April 7, according to the rules set out by Elections BC.
Martin said voters in Chilliwack-Hope are “concerned about the high cost of living, the safety of their communities and the air quality in the Fraser Valley.”
“I will be working hard to promote the BC Conservative message,” he said in a news release.
“We are the only party pledging to eliminate the carbon tax, the only party to stop the Liberal catch-and-release justice system, and I am the only candidate that took a solid stand against a Liberal garbage incinerator that will pollute our air.”
BC Liberal candidate Laurie Throness said the byelection call is “wonderful” news.
“The clock has started ticking,” he said. “It’s an exciting and invigorating moment.”
He said voters have a choice to support the BC Liberal government that has “maintained a strong and vibrant economy for a decade,” or support the NDP with “disastrous results” for the economy.
NDP candidate Gwen O’Mahony said the byelection call is “welcome news” and she is “thrilled” for voters in the riding, who were getting increasingly frustrated by the delay.
With a firm date for the byelection, she believes undecided voters will now focus on their election choices.
“There’s a lot of people who are still deciding who they will vote for,” she said.
Undecided voters, and those who didn’t vote in the previous provincial elections, may be key for the NDP and for the Conservatives to take the riding away from the BC Liberals.
O’Mahony said three issues seem top-of-mind to voters she has talked to — increased premiums for the medical services plan, health care delivery in rural areas of the riding, and “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Post-secondary funding cuts made by the BC Liberal government is “the wrong direction” to address the shortage of skilled and trained workers in B.C.
“We need to really be thinking about that, if we want to have some meaningful discussions (about) good-paying jobs,” she said.
The BC Conservatives have opened up a campaign office at 45609 Luckakuck Way, the site of the former Blockbuster video store.
The BC Liberal campaign office is located at 44500 South Sumas.
The NDP campaign office is located at 8615 Young Road.