Liberals to run candidate in Burnaby South byelection early in the new year

Liberals to run candidate in Burnaby South byelection \early in the new year\
February byelection for B.C. riding where Jagmeet Singh plans to run
Federal Liberals will not be extending a so-called “leaders courtesy” to give the NDPs Jagmeet Singh an easier path to the House of Commons

A senior Liberal source unauthorized to speak on the matter has confirmed to HuffPost Canada that Liberals will run a candidate against Singh in an upcoming byelection in the British Columbia riding of Burnaby South. The source confirmed earlier reports from both The Hill Times and CBC News.

After weeks of debate in Trudeau’s inner circle, insiders say the prime minister has decided the Liberals will run a candidate against Singh, rather than stand aside to give him a better shot at victory. They say the decision is based on the wishes of grassroots Liberals in B.C., who have been nearly unanimous in wanting to put up a fight in Burnaby South.

Trudeau to call 3 byelections for February, including in riding of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

The byelection is expected to be called early in the new year and take place in February. The government will also call votes to fill vacancies in two other ridings: Quebecs Outremont, previously held by former NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, and Ontarios York-Simcoe, left open by the exit of former Tory MP Peter Van Loan.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May announced in August that her party would not put up a candidate against the NDP leader, honouring an informal Canadian parliamentary tradition of clearing some space for party leaders who dont hold seats in the Commons.

In 2002, governing Liberals and Progressive Conservatives did not run candidates against then-Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper when he sought a seat in a Calgary. The same courtesy was extended to a seatless Jean Chretien when the Liberal leader ran in a 1990 byelection.

Bill C-76, which the government hopes will be passed by the end of this year, would forbid the prime minister to call a byelection within nine months of the day fixed for a general election, making Jan. 20 the last day byelections could be called.

In both cases, however, Harper and Chretien were leaders of the Official Opposition without the right to sit in the Commons. Singh, a former Ontario MPP, is the leader of a third party.

Singh was particularly critical, accusing the prime minister of disrespecting some 300,000 people in the ridings of Burnaby South, where the NDP leader plans to run, the Montreal riding of Outremont and the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe.

In 2000, governing Liberals did not run a candidate against Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark in a Nova Scotia byelection, even though he was the third party leader. Clark was, however, a former prime minister attempting to make a political comeback.

If Malcolmson doesn’t quit her federal seat until later in January, Nanaimo-Ladysmith could wind up in the same boat as Di Iorio’s riding of Saint-Leonard-Saint-Michel, without an MP until the Oct. 21 general election.

The Liberal source told HuffPost that grassroots Liberals in Burnaby South wanted to compete to win the seat, long held by New Democrats. Former NDP MP Kennedy Stewart formally resigned the seat in September while running successfully to become Vancouvers mayor.

At the time, Trudeau argued that the other three had only recently been vacated, whereas Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes had been without an MP almost six months, since the death of Conservative Gordon Brown.

Conservatives have already nominated lawyer Jay Shin as their standard-bearer in the riding, meaning Singh has his work cut out for him.

A fourth riding may yet be added to the mix but a fifth riding, due to be vacated on Jan. 22 by Montreal Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio, is likely to remain without representation until the general election due next October.

“Im not sure why Mr. Trudeau delayed making this call in the first place, but Im excited to discuss the issues that matter most to the people of Burnaby South, like the housing crisis, costs of prescription drugs and threats to our environment,” Singh told HuffPost in a statement.

Insiders now say Trudeau will set a date in early February for the other three byelections. He will wait until early January to call them so candidates won’t have to campaign over the Christmas holiday season.

“The Liberals will need to answer to voters for their many betrayals over the past three years. With an NDP MP, the people of Burnaby know theyll have someone in their corner pushing the government to deliver solutions they urgently need.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will call three byelections, including in the B.C. riding where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh hopes to win a seat in Parliament, early in the new year for votes in early February.

In late October, the leaders of the four main opposition parties released a joint letter calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to immediately call byelections in the three ridings with vacancies.

At the time, Trudeau had only called a vote for Dec. 3 in the Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. The riding was held for years by the well-respected Conservative MP Gord Brown, who passed away in May, and is widely expected to stay Tory blue.

However, Liberals seem more concerned that Singh could lose the byelection, prompting the NDP to dump him and choose a potentially more appealing leader before next fall’s general election.

“The longstanding tradition in Canada is to call the by-elections for all vacant seats at the same time,” they wrote in the letter. “However, you have offered no clear explanation as to why you only called a by-election date in Leeds-Grenville while the 334,000 Canadians in Burnaby-South, York-Simcoe, and Outremont should continue to go without federal representation.”

If New Democrat MP Sheila Malcolmson resigns her British Columbia seat of Nanaimo-Ladysmith by the new year, Trudeau could call that byelection at the same time.

A federal byelection will be held in February for a British Columbia riding where NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh plans to run, CTV News has confirmed.

READ MORE: A year away from election day and no-name Scheer is right behind celebrity Trudeau: Ipsos poll

In addition to Burnaby South, the federal Liberals will also call byelections in two other ridings: the Montreal riding of Outremont, left vacant by the resignation of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair; and the Ontario riding of York-Simcoe, left vacant by the resignation of Conservative MP Peter Van Loan.

Singh and other opposition party leaders have been calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call byelections in all vacant federal ridings.

Singh, who does not have a seat in Parliament, said Thursday that he was initially troubled because Trudeau hadnt called the byelections.

He had previously announced his intentions to run in Burnaby South and accused the prime minister of playing some petty political games by calling a byelection in only one of the four vacant ridings — Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes in eastern Ontario.

Im now encouraged to see that there is confirmation that this is going to happen. It gives us an opportunity to give people a chance to hold this government to account, he told CTVs Power Play host Don Martin on Thursday.

Were seeing, again and again, that this governments priorities arent everyday people, he said. This byelection for me is an opportunity for us to talk about whats at stake for Canadians.

Singh said those issues include affordable housing, the rising cost of prescription drugs and climate change, among others.

The Liberals plan to run candidates in all four byelections, rather than standing aside in Burnaby South to give Singh a better chance of securing a seat in the House of Commons.

Asked what he will do if he loses the byelection, Singh said: Im going to continue to fight hard, theres no question about that.

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh speaks during a press conference to comment on the cuts made by Ontario Premier Ford to planned Ontario Francophone universities, in Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

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