Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker says he is “open” to running for re-election in 2024 after being ousted from the BC New Democrat caucus Sunday (Sept. 17) after the conclusion of a misconduct investigation.
“Up until two days ago, it was definitely something I was looking forward to. That’ll be a decision I have to make with my family, but right now I’m definitely looking forward to continuing my term,” he said. “So, sort of, the answer is probably.”
The misconduct is not a criminal matter and not a sexual harassment complaint, Premier David Eby said during an unrelated announcement in Richmond on Sept. 18.
A complaint, received in July, started a formal process under BC NDP collective agreements and based on the findings of the caucus investigation, the premier determined Walker could not remain in caucus, Eby said.
Walker said he could not reveal the nature of the complaint that triggered the investigation.
“It’s really important that investigations of this nature are confidential. They involve people that are not elected officials and their privacy is very important,” he said. “I was disappointed to see that there’s been some information released essentially identifying the individual by Premier Eby. It’s important that people have a safe work environment and that they feel safe to bring concerns forward. And when there’s a chance that these people could be named in public, it will discourage future workers from bringing those complaints forward and it’s so important that we keep that privacy.”
As far as joining another political party, Walker said “all options are on the table” but his focus is continuing to work for the people in the communities he represents.
Walker added he looks forward to his new role as an independent MLA and the opportunity it will provide for him to advocate for improvements to healthcare in his area, including 10,000 people in the Oceanside region that do not have access to a family doctor.
“There’s been a lot of really good work by the BC NDP government, but there’s a lot of things we need to get done in this community,” he said. “I wasn’t able to talk about that when I was an NDP MLA, and I’m going to take advantage to make sure that that’s something I can champion in a very public way to get results for the people of this community.”
Walker said he has been “overwhelmed” with the number of supportive phone calls, emails and texts he has received.
“I’ve probably had two or three hundred people reach out over the last 24 hours. Every single one of them has been in support and standing by me. People of all party stripes, and it’s nice to see that the hard work that I’ve done for the last three years, people recognize that and they’ve got my back,” he said.
In a Sept. 18 statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, Walker acknowledged his removal from the BC NDP caucus.
“I look forward to an opportunity to address any allegations in the appropriate forum,” he said in the statement. “I stand resilient, holding my head high, embracing the trust and responsibility vested in me by the wonderful people of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, and north Nanaimo.”
Walker said his community office in Qualicum Beach remains open to the public.
Voters of Parksville-Qualicum first elected Walker as their MLA in 2020 with 42 per cent of the vote, more than six per cent ahead of incumbent Michelle Stilwell, who had represented the riding since 2013 as a member of the BC Liberals.
A former town councillor in Qualicum Beach from 2018-2020 and self-described farmer, Walker made provincial headlines earlier this month, saving his family dog from a deer attack.
Walker’s departure from the NDP caucus leaves the governing party with 56 seats in the provincial legislature.
—With files from Wolf Depner and Canadian Press