The B.C. Libertarian Party candidate in Nanaimo is urging citizens to rethink how much government they want in their lives.
“I’m basically trying to get a message of freedom out there,” Bill Walker said. “Take responsibility for yourself, your family, your community.”
Walker is one of six candidates hoping to fill the vacant seat in the B.C. legislature. The vote takes place Jan. 30.
The byelection was sparked by the resignation of Leonard Krog, who stepped down as NDP MLA after being elected mayor of Nanaimo in October.
Because the standings in the legislature are so close, parties are going all-out to win this seat.
The NDP-Green coalition currently holds 44 seats, while the Liberals have 42. If Liberal candidate Tony Harris, a businessman with deep roots in the city, wins, that would leave the NDP-Greens with 43 seats, put the Liberals at 43 and give Speaker Darryl Plecas the deciding vote.
Election watchers wonder if strong NDP and Green campaigns will split the vote, handing the seat to the Liberals, who are taking advantage of the government’s roll-out of the controverial new speculation tax to try to win votes.
NDP Health Minister Adrian Dix was in Nanaimo on Wednesday in candidate Sheila Malcolmson’s campaign office, where he said that Nanaimo is next on the list for an urgent primary care centre.
Also running are Green Party candidate Michele Ney and Vancouver Island Party candidate Robin Richardson. Conservative Justin Greenwood, who lives in Langley, has pledged to move to Nanaimo should he win.
Walker, 60, has lived in Nanaimo for 25 years. He grew up in Vancouver and earned a bachelor’s degree in urban geography from McGill University. He has spent the bulk of his career as a mortgage broker and owns Coast Finance Corp. in Nanaimo. He also has a seven-room inn in Tofino.
Walker joined the Libertarian Party five years ago. He said the party does not believe government should be intervening all the time. He also ran in the 2017 provincial election.
There isn’t a campaign budget for the campaign, Walker said. He is being helped by a couple of friends.
Walker, an advocate of private medical clinics in B.C., said such clinics would improve the public system by reducing waits. “This is about freedom of choice.”
He is opposed to government intervention in rental accommodation, saying that more rental properties could have been built in past years, and in favour of turning the Insurance Corp. of B.C. into a co-operative operation.
Elections B.C. is sending out 54,000 Where to Vote cards to Nanaimo electors. Advance voting starts on Jan. 22 and runs until Jan. 27.