POLITICS
10/24/2018 16:05 EDT | Updated 10/25/2018 09:10 EDT

NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson Leaving Federal Politics To Run For B.C. Legislature Seat

She said she's confident she can become MLA "without triggering a federal byelection."

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson speaks with the media about her private members bill regarding abandoned vessels, in Ottawa on Nov. 30, 2017.

OTTAWA — Another NDP MP is saying goodbye to federal politics with less than a year to go before a federal election.

B.C. MP Sheila Malcolmson announced Wednesday that she will run for a seat in the provincial legislature that will become vacant in light of Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog's successful mayoral bid.

Malcolmson, who has represented the B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith since 2015, made the announcement in Nanaimo alongside Premier John Horgan.

"I love the job I have now. I love being Nanaimo-Ladysmith's member of Parliament," she said at a news conference.

A B.C. NDP official told HuffPost Canada that Horgan reached out to Malcolmson to be a candidate under the provincial NDP banner before Krog's win on Saturday.

Malcolmson shared some praise for the federal NDP leader, saying she's "proud" that Jagmeet Singh heads the party.

"I love dearly and deeply admire my federal caucus members," she added.

The B.C. MP mentioned the urgency around issues of the environment and housing crisis as her motivation to dive into provincial politics. They "cannot wait until the next federal election," she said.

As the NDP women's equality critic, she also shared her concerns about elderly and children in poverty.

Some byelection calculus warranted

Horgan has not yet called a byelection for Nanaimo. A B.C. NDP release started the premier "has committed to making sure Nanaimo has a new MLA in time for the provincial budget in February."

Malcolmson said she's confident she can become the MLA for Nanaimo "without triggering a federal byelection and without breaking constituents' service."

While her formal departure on the federal level would mean that a byelection must be called within six months, if she exits in the six months leading to a federal campaign, a local race likely wouldn't be called.

The B.C. MP joins a growing list of NDP incumbents who have announced that they won't run in next year's election. Malcolmson's exit brings the total to eight NDP MPs whose names won't be on ballot in 2019, including party stalwarts Romeo Saganash, Linda Duncan, David Christopherson, Hélène Laverdière and Irene Mathyssen.

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Former NDP leader Tom Mulcair has already resigned, as has Kennedy Stewart, the longtime B.C. MP who was just elected mayor of Vancouver. Singh will run to fill Stewart's old seat in Burnaby South.

It's crucial for the B.C. NDP government to win the Nanaimo riding and Malcolmson's high-profile candidacy is an early boon for the party. Nanaimo has been mostly an NDP riding going back to the '70s and but a provincial Liberal win could jeopardize the NDP-Green Party alliance central to Horgan's government.

Singh, reacting to the news in Ottawa, said he isn't worried about internal party issues after another one of his MPs announced they're jumping ship during the first year of his leadership.

The NDP leader praised Malcolmson a "great MP who's worked really hard for her riding, for the people of Nanaimo." She will be a part of the party's "greater family," he said.

His team is putting together a "strong team come the next election," Singh said, with "new exciting candidates" to fill out its federal team.

With files from Ryan Maloney