3 more B.C. NDP ministers say they won't seek re-election

Three veteran B.C. NDP cabinet ministers announced this week they won't seek re-election in October.

Rob Fleming, the MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, made the announcement in a statement Thursday morning. Fleming is currently the transportation minister and previously oversaw the education file.

"There's no perfect time to leave but this seemed like the right time for me." Fleming, 52, told CBC News. "It was a tough decision. There's reasons to stay and reasons to go. Part of it is you have to support renewal. You can't just hang on."

Fleming said when he was first elected in 2005 at age 33, he didn't expect to have a nearly 20-year career in politics.

He said he's not leaving provincial politics to seek a career at the federal level, which other MLAs have done.

Bruce Ralston, 71, the MLA for Surrey-Whalley and the forests minister, and Harry Bains, who represents Surrey-Newton and oversees the labour file, also announced this week they're not seeking a sixth term in office.

Rob Fleming, the MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, has announced he won't seek re-election in the Oct. 19 provincial election.
Rob Fleming, the MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, has announced he won't seek re-election in the Oct. 19 provincial election. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

"While this decision was not made lightly, I have decided to not run in the next election and allow someone new to continue the work we have begun," Bains, 72, said in a statement.

That will leave the New Democrats without incumbents in two key battleground ridings in Surrey. An Angus Reid poll released last month showed the B.C. Conservatives under Leader John Rustad gaining ground on the governing NDP in areas of Surrey.

All three were elected in 2005 and served five consecutive terms in office. They join eight other MLAs —three of them also cabinet ministers—who will not run for re-election on Oct. 19.

They include Minister of Indigenous Relations Murray Rankin, Finance Minister Katrine Conroy, Environment Minister George Heyman, Doug Routley, Jennifer Rice, Katrina Chen, Fin Donnelly and Nicholas Simons.

B.C. NDP campaign manager Marie Della Mattia said many of the ridings vacated by incumbents are NDP strongholds where she's confident the party can win again. 

"We're excited about the opportunity to have new energy coming onto the team," she said.     

University of British Columbia political scientist Gerald Baier said it's natural for a party to have turnover, and there have been no internal grumblings of discontent inside Premier David Eby's cabinet. 

"You can understand folks who after 20 years say, you know what it's time to move on."

Baier said it's likely the New Democrats are on the hunt for well-known candidates in the two Surrey ridings to stave off a challenge from opposition parties.

For B.C. United, the Official Opposition in the legislature with 28 seats, 13 incumbents won't be on the ballot, including Elenore Sturko and Lorne Doerkson, who jumped ship to run for the B.C. Conservatives.

B.C. Green MLA Adam Olsen, the two-term MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, also announced last week he's not running again.