Sheila Malcolmson celebrates winning a byelection to become Nanaimo MLA in 2019. She is running for re-election for the NDP in the Nanaimo riding. (News Bulletin file photo)

Sheila Malcolmson celebrates winning a byelection to become Nanaimo MLA in 2019. She is running for re-election for the NDP in the Nanaimo riding. (News Bulletin file photo)

MLA in a pandemic, Nanaimo’s Malcolmson looking to be part of B.C.’s recovery

Sheila Malcolmson running for re-election in Nanaimo riding

Much of Sheila Malcolmson’s tenure as Nanaimo MLA has taken place in unprecedented times, and she wants to be part of what’s next for B.C.

Malcolmson is running for re-election as the NDP candidate for the Nanaimo riding, a little over a year and a half after she won the seat in a byelection.

She was asked about the timing of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s decision to call a provincial election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Given how hard that work is going to be to recover from the pandemic and how important it is to care for people, Horgan wants to know that the people of B.C. are with him and I think this is the right time to ask that question,” Malcolmson said.

She said her party tried to ensure that it remained election-ready given it was leading a minority government, and noted that there have been some confidence votes that the government has won by slim margins.

“Nobody thought, given that we didn’t win the most seats in 2017, that this government would have lasted so long and generated so many results,” Malcolmson said.

She said she is now expecting a campaign in which “the only election question is who’s best to fight the pandemic.” She said the NDP will keep listening to people about what’s needed to protect health, jobs and the economy.

“The pandemic has affected everything from health care to homelessness to the economy and the question of how we move forward, how we end up better on the other side is the most important question,” Malcolmson said.

She said parties and candidates are still awaiting information from health officials about best practices for campaigning, but she won’t be door-knocking, holding rallies or trying to draw a crowd for a campaign office opening. Malcolmson said an election can be held safely during the pandemic.

“We have been told by Elections B.C. and Dr. Bonnie Henry that it can be done. It’ll just be very different, like getting a haircut is different and grocery shopping is different…” she said. “It will be a campaign like no other.”

Before moving to provincial politics, Malcolmson was MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. In Horgan’s B.C. government, Malcolmson served as parliamentary secretary for the environment.

The B.C. Liberals and B.C. Greens have not yet announced their candidates for the Nanaimo riding.

In the Nanaimo-North Cowichan riding, Doug Routley of the NDP is seeking re-election, Duck Paterson is representing the B.C. Liberals and Chris Istace is seeking the B.C. Green Party nomination.

In Parksville-Qualicum, Michelle Stilwell of the B.C. Liberals is seeking re-election and is the only announced candidate so far in that riding.

The election is Oct. 24.

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