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NDP going all in for by-election where Clark will seek new seat

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark during a media availability in Vancouver May 15, 2013 after her party won in the BC provincial election.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix says his party will run to win in a by-election that is expected to be called as early as next week to allow Premier Christy Clark to take a seat in the legislature.

"In every election you try to get as many votes as you can," Mr. Dix said in an interview, "and that will be our plan."

Ms. Clark's Liberals won a majority on May 14, with 49 seats to the NDP's 34. But Ms. Clark lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey, and is expected to ask one of her MLAs to step aside after results are made official on June 5.

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The NDP has sent out mixed messages about the coming by-election. David Eby, the MLA-elect who defeated Ms. Clark, promised the New Democrats would mount an "aggressive" campaign wherever she chooses to run. But last week, NDP caucus chair Shane Simpson indicated the NDP would treat the by-election as a unique circumstance, and allow Ms. Clark to take a seat. "She is the Premier and there needs to be some respect for that if you respect the process," he told the Vancouver Sun.

Mr. Dix said on Thursday that Mr. Simpson was simply giving voice to one option, but that his party will not stand down.

"This is an opporutnity for us to fight for the things we believe in and present them to voters again. And that's what we'll do."

Mr. Dix has made few public appearances since his party's defeat in the May 14 election. He has been meeting with his caucus this week and says their priority is getting ready for the legislative session that Ms. Clark is expected to call as soon as she can take a seat in the House.

His party has launched an internal review to dissect how it lost an election that was widely expected to end with an NDP victory, and Mr. Dix said the by-election will not be a dry run for a new campaign style. However, it is a good bet that the New Democrats will deliver a sharper message about the Liberal record.

The New Democrats campaigned cautiously in the general election, hoping to protect what they assumed was a safe lead. Mr. Dix said there is no expectation that the NDP would have an easy fight now.

Ms. Clark lives in Vancouver-Fairview, which the NDP took from the Liberals in the election. In the coming by-election, she will likely favour a safe seat – although first she has to persuade one of her MLAs to step down.

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Some of Ms. Clark's prospects include:

Fort Langley-Aldergrove: Rich Coleman, a staunch loyalist of the Premier, won his seat 20 percentage points ahead of the NDP.

Westside-Kelowna: The B.C. Liberals did especially well in the Interior, and Ben Stewart had a 28-point margin of victory here.

Surrey-White Rock: This would be closer to home for the Premier, and Gordon Hogg finished more than 30 percentage points ahead of his NDP rival.

Peace River North: Ms. Clark spent much of the campaign in the North and may want to plant a flag here. Pat Pimm topped the polls with about 34 points to spare.

West Vancouver-Capilano: This would qualify as the easiest Liberal seat, where Ralph Sultan finished nearly 45 points ahead of the NDP.

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About the Author
B.C. politics reporter

Based in the press gallery of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Justine has followed the ups and downs of B.C. premiers since 1988. She has also worked as a business reporter and on Parliament Hill covering national politics. More

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