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BC Conservatives could be 'spoiler' in coming Chilliwack byelection: Clark

"Governments almost always lose byelections," B.C. Premier Christy Clark said, before meeting with the Chilliwack-Fraser Rotary Club on Wednesday.

"Nevertheless, we're going to have an outstanding candidate," she said, when the party's nomination contest does get underway.

However, the Premier said it would be "bizarre" if the strongly conservative riding of Chilliwack-Hope bucked political history and sent an NDP MLA to Victoria.

The only way for the NDP to win here would be for the BC Conservatives to act as a 'spoiler' and split the conservative vote, she said.

"This (byelection) is the first chance any community in BC will get to say 'No' to handing over our government to the NDP" in the May, 2013 provincial election, she said.

"I'm really hopeful the voters of Chilliwack will honor (Barry Penner's) legacy and support his party in the byelection," she said.

Rotary Club rules prohibited the Premier from talking politics during the noon-hour meeting.

Penner announced his resignation as MLA earlier this month in order to return to private law practice.

The BC Liberals have not fielded a nomination candidate since Diane Janzen withdrew her name, yet two NDP candidates and one BC Conservative candidate have announced nomination bids so far.

BC Conservative Leader John Cummins also visited the Chilliwack-Hope riding on Monday.

He claimed the party doesn't need to split the conservative vote to win the byelection, just draw on voters who stayed home rather than vote for BC Liberals in the last election.

But Clark said "the only way to beat the NDP in B.C. is to come together and get behind a single candidate."

Or face a repeat of the NDP government that ruled B.C. for two terms from 1991 to 2001.

The BC Liberals are suggesting that a recent poll is wrong that shows the NDP 11 percentage points ahead of the BC Liberals and the BC Conservatives, both tied at 23 percent.

"Our internal polling shows a very different picture," a statement released by the Office of the Premier claimed on Wednesday. "It's a two-way race between the BC Liberals and the NDP. The difference between the BC Liberals and the NDP is much narrower than recent public polls. The BC Conservatives can only act as a spoiler."

No byelection date has been announced.

BC Conservatives in Chilliwack-Hope will vote for a candidate at a Jan. 17 meeting, and the NDP are looking at a nomination meeting later in the month.

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