EDITORIAL – Politicians who quit too soon should pay by-election costs

Christy Clark’s resignation resulted in Kelowna West by-election.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

THE KELOWNA WEST by-election is officially underway. Unofficially, it’s been going on for months, but Premier John Horgan has finally set the date for Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day.

It’s been months since Christy Clark announced her resignation as BC Liberal leader and as MLA for the riding.

Horgan has been in no rush to call a by-election, speculation being that he hasn’t been anxious to give the Liberals a chance to boost their numbers back up to 43 members, compared to the 44 held by NDP and Greens combined.

The Liberals will have a new leader a week and a half from now and can start looking toward the next general election.

One of the candidates for leader, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, says he’d take the politics out of by-election timing and change the deadline for calling by-elections from six months to only 45 days after a seat is vacated.

That’s not a bad idea, but let’s not forget who’s responsible for the vacancy in the first place — Christy Clark. She could have resigned as leader and remained as MLA, at least until the next election.

Instead, she picked up her marbles and went home to the Coast with a pension estimated at $100,000.

Which brings up the question, once again, why taxpayers should be stuck with the cost of by-elections when politicians quit. It arose during the Kamloops civic by-election after then-mayor Peter Milobar resigned from council to run for the Liberals.

It was pointed out that Penticton mayor Dan Ashton had offered to pay the costs of a civic by-election caused by his resignation to run provincially. The cost of that by-election was estimated at $35,000.

The costs for provincial by-elections run around $500,000.

Maybe, if politicians who resign had to pay by-election costs unless they’re sick or have some other good reason, they’d think twice about it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear twice daily Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on and CFJC Today. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (5441 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Politicians who quit too soon should pay by-election costs

  1. Lorraine Winter // January 24, 2018 at 11:57 AM // Reply

    An interesting idea worth further discussion. Thanks Mel for keeping us thinking.

  2. If they aren’t forced to leave because of a medical or other unforeseen issue, absolutely, they should pay the costs to find a replacement. Quitting because things didn’t unfold the way they wanted, or because they thought they could get a better deal elsewhere, shouldn’t cost the taxpayer. They asked for the job and campaigned for the job. They were *granted* the job by the voters. Quitting for their own selfish reasons is an insult to all those who helped put them in the position – volunteers, voters and taxpayers – everyone.

    Picking up their marbles, as you described it, appears childish and selfish and, one could argue, says something about their character.

  3. Politicians should pay for byelections costs for sure, IMHO.

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