Slater reconsidering decision to run as independent candidate.

John Slater, MLA for Okanagan Coquihalla, announced Jan. 14 that he was leaving the B.C. Liberal caucus and would be sitting as an independent for the remainder of his term.  -
John Slater, MLA for Okanagan Coquihalla, announced Jan. 14 that he was leaving the B.C. Liberal caucus and would be sitting as an independent for the remainder of his term.
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John Slater, the former Liberal MLA for Boundary-Similkameen, is reconsidering his decision to run as independent candidate in the upcoming provincial election.

After a tumultuous week, Slater expects to come to a decision on his political future Friday afternoon.

Slater resigned from the B.C. Liberal caucus just a few days ago, on Jan. 14, in protest over the party’s refusal to endorse him for the spring election. The day after resigning, Slater announced that not only would he be sitting as an independent for the remaining four months of his term, he planned to run as an independent.

Today, Slater said several factors have caused him to reassess that decision.

“It’s been a brutal week. And you have to look at your health and your family and your friends and supporters,” he said. “I think I have done a really good job in my riding for the last four years, and we got a lot accomplished but without that, for lack of a better word, support from Victoria, it’s going to be a lot more difficult.”

The press release from the B.C. Liberal party confirming Slater’s resignation stated that he had “personal issues” that would “impact his ability to represent the party.” That vague statement led to questions about whether Slater had a problem with alcohol, which he and the local liberal riding president, Zach Poturica, both denied.

Slater said he wasn’t sure that he wanted to face four months of questions in the build up to the election in May.

“I am a little disillusioned, I don’t want to go through four months of garbage and rhetoric,” said Slater. “Life is too short, I am 61 next week and I am looking at it from John Slater’s perspective.”

The question facing him, Slater said, is whether he can do a better job on the outside, rather than being an opponent of the NDP or Liberals, whichever forms the next government. Running as an independent would likely split the right-wing vote in Boundary-Similkameen, giving NDP candidate Marji Basso a better chance to take the riding.

“I can still contribute to communities and initiatives. And I am going to be working on the water act in the next two or three months and some resource-based issues in the Boundary-Similkameen,” said Slater. “I’m not giving up, don’t get me wrong. I need to concentrate on what I am doing and why. I have been doing it for 22 years, valley-wide and I want to keep working. Maybe as an independent, it is going to be tougher.”

Another issue is financial support. Money raised in support of Slater as a Liberal candidate will now be used to fund the campaign for Linda Larson, who the party has chosen to replace Slater as their candidate.

“That’s an issue. I am not being bitter, I am just asking how many times can I go to my guys,” said Slater, acknowledging the people who worked to support him, both financially and physically, in the 2009 campaign and through the current mandate.

“Now I look at it and ask do I want to go to them again? Especially when the odds of me winning are low,” he said. “Bottom line is that there has only been one independent MLA elected in the last 20 years.”

Slater feels he still has considerable support in the riding, but said that when push comes to shove, people want to vote for government.

“As an independent, how much credence am I going to get, how much support am I going to get to help my riding?” asked Slater. “Maybe I can do a little more to help my riding on the outside.”



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