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British Columbia NDP MLA Jenny Kwan, seen in 2009, has hailed MP Libby Davies as ‘iconic.’

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Veteran B.C. New Democrat Jenny Kwan will enter the race to win the federal NDP nomination in Vancouver East this weekend, setting up a battle with fellow caucus member Mable Elmore to represent the NDP in the federal election this year.

A source in the Kwan camp confirmed the former Vancouver city councillor, provincial cabinet minister and the longest-serving B.C. NDP MLA is entering the race, with a news conference scheduled for Sunday at which Ms. Kwan will be flanked by community leaders.

Mable Elmore, the NDP MLA for Vancouver Kingston, has already entered the race to succeed Libby Davies, who announced last month that she would not seek re-election – a move that ends her 17-year run as the riding's MP. Ms. Davies, 61, was first elected Vancouver East MP in 1997 and re-elected five times.

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Ms. Kwan was first elected the MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant in 1996 and re-elected in May, 2013. In provincial politics, she has served as municipal affairs minister and community-development minister, among other roles, in NDP governments.

In a statement last month, NDP Leader John Horgan acknowledged the interest of two of his caucus members in a new federal political role, noting the rare opportunity to represent citizens of "an iconic federal riding."

"I know there are members of my provincial caucus interested in seeing if they can walk in the footsteps of political representatives like Harold Winch, Margaret Mitchell and Libby Davies, and I wish them well in the upcoming nomination race," Mr. Horgan said.

Vancouver East has been an NDP stronghold for years, but a pair of Liberals held it for a term each in the 1970s and 1990s and the Conservatives ran second in 2011, suggesting the seat will be highly competitive this fall.

Neither the Liberals nor Conservatives have nominated a candidate to run this fall.

Earlier this year, Ms. Kwan found herself in political turbulence after an audit showed she and her family benefited from lavish trips paid for by the Portland Hotel Society, which was publicly funded to provide social services to residents of the Downtown Eastside. Her ex-husband, Dan Small, was a former society executive. Ms. Kwan repaid $35,000 for two trips and took a leave of absence as MLA.

Ms. Kwan has since said she did not think a bid for the nomination would be harmed by her troubles with the Portland Hotel Society, noting she has a larger record over her years in the legislature.

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Ms. Kwan said that among the issues she is working through are family matters related to her two young children.

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