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No federal byelection in Nanaimo-Ladysmith until provincial vote done

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to wait until after the provincial byelection in Nanaimo before taking steps to fill the federal Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding vacated by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to wait until after the provincial byelection in Nanaimo before taking steps to fill the federal Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding vacated by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson.

“There will be no overlap with the provincial byelection,” a federal Liberal official said Wednesday.

Malcolmson officially resigned Jan. 2 to run for the B.C. NDP in the Nanaimo byelection on Jan. 30.

Elections Canada said chief electoral officer Stéphane Perrault received official notice from House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan on Monday that the Nanaimo-Ladysmith seat is vacant.

The legislated timelines mean that a byelection must be announced between Jan. 18 and July 6.

Malcolmson said in an interview that she left her resignation as late as possible so that it would be unlikely to trigger a costly byelection before the next general election, to be held on Oct. 21.

She acknowledged, however, that the final decision on calling a byelection belongs to Trudeau.

The prime minister on Wednesday announced byelections will be held Feb. 25 in B.C.’s Burnaby South riding, York-Simcoe in Ontario and Outremont in Montreal.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is running in Burnaby South, which was previously held by NDP MP Kennedy Stewart before he became mayor of Vancouver in October.

Outremont was left vacant when Tom Mulcair, the former NDP leader, resigned, while York-Simcoe came open with the resignation of Conservative MP Peter Van Loan.

If a byelection is held in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, John Hirst, branch manager of Sun Life Financial in Nanaimo, will carry the Conservative Party’s colours. The 32-year-old father of two won the nomination race in November, defeating Jennifer Clarke.

Clarke was subsequently nominated by the new People’s Party of Canada under Maxime Bernier, the Quebec MP who lost the Conservative Party leadership to Andrew Scheer and then broke away from the Tories last summer to form his own party.

The other parties have yet to announce their candidates.

Malcolmson hopes to win the provincial Nanaimo riding previously held by former NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who was elected mayor of Nanaimo in October.

The seat is considered crucial for the provincial NDP government. Premier John Horgan has been relying on the support of three Green MLAs to maintain a slim 44-42 seat majority over the B.C. Liberals.

lkines@timescolonist.com

— With files from The Canadian Press