Federal ambitions may leave 3 provincial seats vacant in B.C.

Green candidate Peter Fry, a well-known community activist and one-time municipal nominee, has already started hosting some small events in the neighbourhood in an effort to further raise his already considerable profile.

"I think it’s time to change things up... the NDP have sort of held onto this riding as the incumbent for a long time, but the riding has changed a lot. And I don’t think the B.C. NDP are really on top of a lot of the serious issues that we really need to address with regard to climate change.”

Federal ambitions may leave 3 provincial seats vacant in B.C.

While the federal election will undoubtedly get top billing in the media cycle for the next two months, behind the scenes there are a handful of provincial races slowly taking shape.

One provincial seat in Vancouver is already up for grabs and two more in the Lower Mainland could soon be vacated depending on whether the prospective candidates win their respective federal nomination bids.

The race to replace former NDP MLA Jenny Kwan as the representative for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant is already gaining some steam, although the provincial government isn’t required to call a byelection until some time in January 2016.

Green candidate Peter Fry, a well-known community activist and one-time municipal nominee, has already started hosting some small events in the neighbourhood in an effort to further raise his already considerable profile.

Likewise, the NDP have tapped Melanie Mark, a former official at B.C.’s Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, as their candidate for the riding, while the Liberals are rumoured to be trying to attract a star candidate of their own.

“I think it’s time to change things up,” said Fry, who is the son of long-serving Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry. “I think the NDP have sort of held onto this riding as the incumbent for a long time, but the riding has changed a lot. And I don’t think the B.C. NDP are really on top of a lot of the serious issues that we really need to address with regard to climate change.”

There are several challenges, however, to doing any kind of campaigning during a federal election cycle and the summer, Fry noted. That’s why he’s keeping his events small. This Sunday, for example, he’s hosting an open event at a local restaurant in the Strathcona area.

“People are having a hard enough time wrapping their heads around a federal election, let alone a provincial byelection that still doesn’t have a determined date,” he said. “That said, the response we’ve been getting when we do talk to people is quite promising, I think.”

The seat officially became vacant only last month when Kwan tendered her formal resignation in the provincial legislature so that she could represent the federal NDP as their candidate in Libby Davies’ old riding of Vancouver-East.

Liberal MLAs Marc Dalton (Maple Ridge-Mission) and Doug Horne (Coquitlam-Burke Mountain) have also declared their plans to secure the federal Conservative nominations in the respective Lower Mainland ridings of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge and Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.

As of Tuesday, neither Dalton or Horne had officially resigned their provincial seats and neither their names, nor the federal ridings they hope to represent, were listed on the Conservative’s candidate database.

Horne told The Province the nomination deadline for his riding is Thursday. A nomination meeting and vote will likely follow that as there is another candidate who has expressed an interest in running, he said.

Horne said he will resign his provincial seat should he win the federal nomination

Under provincial regulations, Premier Christy Clark is required to call a byelection within six months of a seat being vacated.

Kwan, Horne and Dalton are all eligible for provincial pensions, which they can begin collecting at 65, according to Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Kwan’s Year 1 pension is $75,820, and will go up by about 2 per cent a year, for a lifetime total of $1.3 million. Horne’s Year 1 pension will be $27,251 (for a lifetime total of $471, 262) and Dalton’s will be $24,450, for a lifetime total of $422,824.

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