Kelowna West NDP candidate Shelley Cook says the first time she ran for office—in last year’s provincial election—it was a positive experience.
Cook ran against then premier Christy Clark and finished a distant second.
But since then a lot has changed on the political landscape in B.C. Clark is now long gone, her party has a new leader and it currently sits in opposition in the B.C. Legislature. The NDP, supported by the B.C. Green Party, is the party in power in Victoria.
So Cook’s second run at winning the Kelowna West riding has been very different.
“The first time was very positive,” said Cook. “But this time everything has been ratcheted up.”
She said given that this is a byelection, not part of a larger general election, all eyes are on the riding. And with so much at stake because of the current numbers in the B.C. Legislature—the issues have been magnified.
Currently the NDP and the Liberals have 41 MLAs each, with three B.C. Greens and one independent—the Speaker of the Legislature.
The Capital News has reached out to all five candidates in the byelection and will post stories through the day as we hear back from the candidates. Polls close at 8 p.m. You will also find the results on our web site as soon as they are available as well as reaction.
Related: B.C. Liberal confident heading into byelection
Related: Kelowna West voters head to the polls
Cook said affordability was the main issue she heard about when talking to voters during the campaign. But while housing is a huge concern, affordability encompasses more than just housing—education, child care and transportation are also part of the equation. And they are issues the current NDP are addressing, she said.
On Wednesday, during a break from discussions with her campaign staff about getting her vote out, Cook said she believes her campaign has helped raise issues in the riding that need to be talked about.
Whether the Alberta government’s targeting of B.C. wine in its trade dispute with B.C. played any part in the byelection’s latter days is unclear, but Cook said she supports the local industry. And she said protection of the environment is one way to help the wine industry remain strong.
Environmental protection is at the heart of the current B.C. government’s opposition to expanding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline.
Premier John Horgan has said he wants to consult more with British Columbians about the pipeline proposal, and is looking at convening an expert panel to investigate the amount of bitumen that can be safely transported in pipeline.
Byelection polls remain open until 8 p.m. tonight.