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Editorial: Federal byelection, if it happens, is no reason for voter fatigue

If indeed a byelection is called to choose a Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, we might as well embrace it

The idea of a second 2019 byelection, this time for Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, is unpalatable to some. But it wouldn’t be all bad.

Nanaimo citizens have been asked to cast a lot of ballots of late, with a provincial byelection Jan. 30 next up. It’s almost always campaign season around here.

However, a federal byelection this spring is no certainty. Though Elections Canada announced last week that a byelection was required, there was no date announced, and it could simply get rolled into the general election Oct. 21, we’re told.

The federal government’s Bill C-76 to amend the Canada Elections Act just received royal assent last month, and it contains new law around the timing of byelections, keeping them at least nine months from regularly scheduled elections. The Prime Minister’s Office says the PM didn’t want to announce a byelection in Nanaimo yet in order to avoid confusion, and probably, voter fatigue is a consideration. On top of all those reasons, it’s ultimately the prime minister’s call, and a vote in Nanaimo is unlikely to give the federal Liberals much of a red wave heading toward October.

So there’s a lot to suggest that a federal byelection won’t happen in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. If it does indeed get called, though, there’s reason to embrace it.

We’ve seen in recent months a series of provincial funding announcements around social housing, health care and more. There’s a likelihood a federal byelection may happen to coincide with new federal funding for projects in the region.

While it’s easy to say byelections are costly, it’s all Canadian taxpayers, not only the ones in the riding, who would be paying for it.

And byelections can result in hyper-local campaigns with local candidates in the spotlight rather than the party leaders.

A lot of times, politics seem to happen far away. Any chance we have to bridge that disconnect, make a decision at ballot box here in Nanaimo and gain representation is an opportunity. If it happens, we can make the most of it.

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