The lone Liberal MLA on Vancouver Island is hoping to have some company in the Legislature come the new year.

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell said it’s expected Premier John Horgan will call a by-election in Nanaimo in early January.

“I would think that the by-election will be called early in the new year, probably the first week of the new year because John Horgan, the premier, has said that he wants to have that seat filled for the budget.”

Businessman Tony Harris will run for the Liberals while Sheila Malcolmson, the former MP for the Nanaimo/Ladysmith constituency will be running to represent the NDP provincially.

Retired teacher Michele Ney is representing the Green party, Robin Richardson is running for the Vancouver Island Party and the BC Conservative Party says they’ll announce a candidate in the coming weeks.

Stilwell said it’s an important by-election.

“Obviously, Nanaimo is a critical by-election because it is a tipping point for the government should the turning of seats happen in Nanaimo.”

If the Liberals capture the seat it would be a tie in the Legislature with 43 seats for the Grits and 43 for the the NDP/Green alliance.

Leonard Krog officially resigned his seat in the Legislature on December 1st after he was elected mayor there in October.

The premier has six months from the time the seat is vacated until he calls a by-election.