Chance to pick premier ends Friday

If you want to vote for the man or woman who will be the next B.C. premier, you’ll have to buy a BC Liberal membership before 5 p.m. Friday.

“You can still buy a membership after the deadline, but you won’t be eligible for the (leadership) vote on Feb. 26,” Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner said.

Party officials are “bracing for thousands of new memberships to arrive Friday,” he added, even though many may not have decided which leadership candidate they will vote for.

The winner of the Feb. 26 leadership vote becomes the province’s premier until the next general election on May 14, 2013.

The six candidates include Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne, former radio talk show host Christy Clark, Vancouver-Langara MLA Moira Stilwell, Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon, Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong and Shushwap MLA George Abbott.

Abbott is scheduled to visit Chilliwack on Saturday at the Decades coffee club on Wellington Avenue from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Clark and Falcon have also made campaign stops in Chilliwack.

Penner is a member of a party committee overseeing conduct of the leadership contest, so he has not announced a favourite candidate.

Chilliwack MLA John Les is supporting Falcon.

Penner said there has been a “significant bump up” in the number of new memberships in the Chilliwack-Hope riding, and “thousands” across the province since the leadership race began with the departure of BC Premier Gordon Campbell.

Those who buy a $10 membership before the Friday deadline will later be mailed an identification number so they can vote by phone or by Internet.

The “preferential vote” system allows members to place the six candidates in order of preference.

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