Federal New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson says she’s been pondering her jump to provincial politics in British Columbia since the summer when she was approached by officials in Premier John Horgan’s office.
The Nanaimo-Ladysmith member of Parliament said Wednesday she has no beef with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, but wants to run for the B.C. New Democrats to join the provincial government’s initiatives to improve housing and fight climate change.
Horgan and current Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog joined Malcolmson at a news conference in Nanaimo to announce her plan to seek the nomination in the riding when a byelection is called.
Krog, a five-term New Democrat, was elected mayor of Nanaimo last weekend and is expected to resign his seat within weeks, clearing the way for a byelection call in late December or early January.
“We’ve been talking all summer and we were waiting until the municipal election result was clear before moving forward to announce my willingness to be the candidate,” Malcolmson said in an interview after her announcement.
“As soon as Leonard indicated his candidacy for mayor … the premier’s office started working about reaching out in finding the best candidate,” she said. “I’m very honoured they chose me.”
Malcolmson, the federal NDP’s women’s equality critic, said she told Singh and the caucus members that her jump to B.C. politics involves opportunities to become immediately and directly involved in the government’s housing and climate initiatives.
“I’m trying to put myself most directly in the position of being able to influence the forces that coastal communities contend with,” she said. “The environmental and social problems facing my community can’t wait a year for the federal election.”
Singh downplayed Malcolmson’s departure, saying she remains part of the greater New Democratic family.
“Sheila Malcolmson is a great MP who has worked really hard for her riding, for the people of Nanaimo and she’s going to continue to do that,” he said in Ottawa.
Horgan said he couldn’t be more pleased with Malcolmson’s decision to run provincially. He said he spoke with Singh, telling him that Malcolmson’s decision to run for his party strengthens the New Democrats across Canada.
Malcolmson, who was invited to seek the nomination by Horgan, said she will resign her federal seat when the byelection is called.
Former Burnaby New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart also left the federal New Democrat caucus recently and was elected as mayor of Vancouver.
B.C.’s Opposition Liberals said in a statement that the party looks forward the byelection, but raised concerns about the New Democrats putting Nanaimo residents through a provincial and federal byelection.
“The nomination of the current member of Parliament proves just how much the NDP takes Nanaimo for granted, putting local taxpayers on the hook for potentially not one but two byelections at a cost of well over a million dollars,” Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said in a statement.