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Candidate's debate in Nanaimo byelection focusing on millennial voters

Last Updated Jan 21, 2019 at 5:36 pm PDT

NDP candidate Sheila Malcolmson in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A candidate's debate in the Nanaimo byelection happens January 21

The debate is aimed at the riding's "young professionals"

NANAIMO (NEWS 1130) – A candidate’s debate in the critical Nanaimo byelection aimed at the riding’s “young professionals”  happens January 21st.

The Forum for Millennial Leadership (FML) hosts the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson, the Liberals’ Tony Harris and Michele Ney of the Green Party at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

The debate is moderated by Richard Zussman.

Nanaimo, located on the east coast of Vancouver Island about 110 kilometres northeast of Victoria, is a port city with coal mining and forestry roots. More than 90,000 people live in the city.

FML says Nanaimo has 15,000 eligible voters are under the age of 40, and it wants to put some focus on their issues and opportunities.

RELATED: Provincial by-election in Nanaimo called for Jan. 30

If the Liberals win, the legislature will be at a 43-43 tie, with Speaker Darryl Plecas — a former Liberal who now sits as an Independent — forced to cast tie-breaking votes.

If the NDP lose the January 30th vote, it may disrupt its fragile hold on power in the legislature. An NDP win would preserve the minority government’s status.

Prof. Mark Blackell, who teaches Liberal Studies at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island University, said the city is known as an NDP stronghold, but the name recognition of the Liberal, Harris, and the Green’s Ney will challenge Malcolmson and the NDP.

“Nanaimo has undergone gradual changes in the past several decades due to a changing economy, one that has become more service-oriented, and due to people moving here, often to retire and, more recently, younger people from the Lower Mainland to find more reasonable housing,” he said.

“While many who have settled, especially from Alberta, bring more conservative or B.C. Liberal Party allegiances, there has also been a growth in Green party support, largely in the younger population.”

Harris, the Liberal candidate, said every candidate is aware of the high stakes in the byelection, but it’s also an opportunity for the often neglected city to garner well-deserved attention.