With a federal byelection for the South Surrey-White Rock riding just over a month away, only the Liberal party has confirmed a candidate.
The byelection date – Dec. 11 – was announced Sunday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Byelections will also be held on that date in the electoral districts of Bonavista–Burin–Trinity in Newfoundland and Labrador; Scarborough–Agincourt in Ontario and Battlefords–Lloydminster in Saskatchewan.
The local byelection was triggered by the departure of former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, Conservative MP for the riding, who resigned in September – after two years in office – to concentrate on a bid for leadership of the BC Liberal party.
Sunday’s announcement coincided with a formal confirmation of Gordon Hogg – former BC Liberal MLA for White Rock-South Surrey and former White Rock mayor – as the federal Liberal candidate at a meeting at White Rock Community Centre.
Representatives of the Conservatives and the Green Party said it would likely be next week before candidates were confirmed, while the NDP said it would be subject to further discussion following federal and provincial constituency meetings in B.C. yesterday (Tuesday).
“I was a little surprised (at the date),” Peter Ferris, past-president of the NDP riding association and current chair of the candidate search committee, said Monday.
“I thought it was probably going to be in the new year – maybe it was a case of tidiness. If one were cynical – depending on the result – one might think that having it before Christmas might give everyone a chance to forget what happened.”
Ferris said the NDP needs to discuss “what kind of election we want to run,” noting that while the party has prided itself on its ability to canvass, the effect of social media suggests the need for “finding new ways to get the message across.”
“I think we’re getting into an age in which elections will be quite different in the future,” he said.
Conservative riding president Jerry Presley said Monday that local party members will be “busy this week wrapping up the candidate-selection process – but we should be ready to announce a candidate by Sunday.”
Presley said that following candidate-selection protocols was a matter of fairness to some seven potential candidates who had expressed interest in running for the party.
The Dec. 11 date was not a surprise, he said: “(Trudeau) has to get it off his desk.”
Green Party national press secretary Dan Palmer said Monday that while the party doesn’t have an active riding president in South Surrey-White Rock, it hopes to announce a candidate “later this week or early next week.”
The Progressive Canadian Party’s Brian Marlatt – who ran in four past elections in the riding – said that while he has been living on Vancouver Island temporarily while his father underwent a health crisis, there’s a slim possibility that he may be able return in time to run in the byelection.
However, Marlatt said he has two other potential candidates in mind to run in the riding, although neither has yet been confirmed.
“It’s a little up in the air,” he said. “Dec. 11 doesn’t give us a lot of time.”