Michele Ney launched her official campaign for this month’s provincial byelection in Nanaimo on Sunday, saying she’ll go full bore to election day with the intent of winning a seat and retaining the B.C. NDP-Green Party government.
“It will take each and every one of us to make this difference,” said Ney, to supporters and volunteers who filled her Nanaimo campaign headquarters. “This is an NDP town but I’m hoping we’ll make it a Green town very shortly.”
Ney said she wants to set Nanaimo in the right direction supporting clean energy, an emerging economy, 21st-century transportation options, and further investments in education.
The provincial seat had been held by longtime NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who stepped down after he was elected mayor of Nanaimo in October.
Now running to fill that seat for the Green Party is Ney, NDP Sheila Malcolmson, Liberal Tony Harris, and Robin Richardson of the Vancouver Island Party. Candidates have until Wednesday to file nomination papers. The byelection is Jan. 30.
In the B.C. legislature, the NDP and Greens have a combined 44 seats and the Liberals have 42.
A Liberal win in the byelection would leave the B.C. legislature in a 43-43 deadlock, with Speaker and Independent MLA Darryl Plecas called to cast tie-breaking votes. It would be a situation that could lead to a general election.
Jonina Campbell, the B.C. Green Party’s second deputy leader, referred to the BC Green Party’s three MLAs - leader and Oak Bay MLA Andrew Weaver, Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau and Saanich North and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen as “three of the hardest working people I have ever met. They shoulder every single portfolio - three MLAs.
“Just think what we could do with one more Green MLA in the legislature,” said Campbell.
Campbell said the challenges of climate change can seem insurmountable but that the B.C. Green Party has the tools.
It is by all accounts a historic byelection and “a pivotal time in our history” in the need for urgent action on climate change, she said, adding the next 12 years will define our success or failure.
Ney is a retired teacher.
“I want to see Michele in the B.C. Legislature working on behalf of all of B.C.s children,” said Campbell.
Ney is also from a political family. Her father, Frank Ney, was mayor of Nanaimo for 21 years serving his last stint in 1990. The former mayor was known as being outgoing, a veteran, and father of 11 children, many adopted from different racial backgrounds. He died in November 1992.
Michele Ney wished her father was with her for her campaign launch, saying he’d support her every step of the way.
“My father was a Socred and if he was here today, he would be a Green. He’d be all over being a Green,” said Ney.
She talked about how her father was elected as a Socred MLA in NDP Nanaimo - 1969 to 1972 - “and you’d think the odds weren’t in his favour.”
He won against the odds because people believed in him,” said Ney, because he was honest and had integrity and had a vision for our community.
Ney said she always tells her students the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
“There is a large part of my father inside of me and together we are going to make it so that we have that Green stamp in Nanaimo and ... in Victoria,” said Ney.
Ney said she may not have elected political experience but said she grew up living and learning the job from her father whom she said had a great love and respect for people and the environment.
Ney said, unfortunately, Nanaimo has been mostly ignored on a civic, provincial and federal level and what is needed at the provincial level is another independent B.C. Green Party voice.
She added that more liquefied natural gas and fossil fuel dependence is not what the province needs. Clean energy produces more jobs and is what is needed to fight climate change.
Ney said unlike the NDP and Liberals she will not build fear in this campaign and rather wants to build a campaign around stability.
Ney is asking voters to vote with their hearts and conscience rather than strategically cast a vote in fear.