Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP members will choose a candidate from contestants Bob Chamberlin, Maeve O’Byrne, Lauren Semple and Fred Statham. (B.C. Government and News Bulletin photos)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP to choose a candidate this week

Maeve O’Byrne enters the nomination race; vote to be held Saturday, March 30

The NDP didn’t have a candidate to start the byelection campaign, but will have a candidate before the end of the week.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP will select its candidate on Saturday, March 30.

Party members will have four choices: Bob Chamberlin and Lauren Semple, who launched their bids for nomination earlier this month, and also Maeve O’Byrne and Fred Statham.

O’Byrne was the founding president of the Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation and led that organization for more than 20 years. She is now an executive coach and consultant and provides coaching to volunteers working in refugee camps.

O’Byrne said for many years she has supported women participating in politics at all levels of government, including past local MPs Sheila Malcolmson and Jean Crowder.

“Having supported Sheila and Jean, I decided that this was an ideal opportunity for me to put my hat in the ring, as it were,” O’Byrne said.

She said there’s a “great list” of NDP nominees for the riding but said she doesn’t know if being a late addition to the race will have an impact on her support.

“I’m very well-known in the community; I’m known for my work in various organizations,” she said.

“I would be very ready to jump into the byelection,” O’Byrne added in an e-mail. “The NDP platform is clear, we work for the people and the values that the party espouses are my own. The Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding is organized, supportive and ready to work with nominee elected on Saturday.”

Chamberlin is vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and chief councillor of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation; Semple is a past president of Nanaimo Pride and a women’s rights activist and a muralist; and Statham has been active in politics with bids to try to join Nanaimo city council in 2017 and 2018.

RELATED: First Nations leader to try for NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

RELATED: Activist and past Pride president seeking NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The NDP originally planned to select its candidate in early to mid May, but the timeline was accelerated once Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the byelection for May 6.

“I was hoping, obviously, to have a bit of a longer process, but I was denied that opportunity and I’m excited to get it done and sorted out so we can hit the campaign trail,” said Jesse Woodward, president of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP electoral district association.

He said he’s “very confident” that the NDP will enter the byelection campaign with a strong candidate.

The nomination meeting will be held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre’s Shaw Auditorium on Saturday, with registration at 1 p.m. and a firm 2 p.m. cutoff. Residents of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding have until 4 p.m. Thursday to become party members in order to participate in Saturday’s voting.

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