Darryl Plecas, a criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley, announced Monday he will run in Abbotsford South as a B.C. Liberal MLA candidate in the 2013 provincial election.
His entry adds another voice to an already contentious riding shaping up to be a three-way dog political fight.
"I have decided to seek public office because I am concerned about what's happening around the world and I don't want to see British Columbia taken down that same path to economic disaster," Plecas said in a release.
"I believe only Premier Christy Clark and a B.C. Liberal government will keep us off that path and keep us on the road of prosperity and success."
Plecas, a frequent commentator on law and order issues, holds the RCMP University Research Chair and is the director for the Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research at the University of the Fraser Valley.
"No jurisdiction in the Western World has been as successful at reducing crime in the last decade as we have here in British Columbia," he said. "That's the good news, but there is still major fixing to be done . . . ."
Abbotsford South, traditionally a centre-right riding, may turn into a fractious battleground in the coming months. Incumbent John van Dongen stepped down from the Conservative party in September to sit as an independent in the legislature, citing a lack of confidence in party leader John Cummins. Just over a week before that, small-business owner Lakhvinder Jhaj from Penticton received the B.C. NDP nomination to run in the provincial election tentatively scheduled for May 2013.
"I think you're looking at a three-way dog fight in that riding," said political commentator and former NDP strategist Bill Tieleman in September on the increasingly unpredictable riding.
"You've got to look at the tea leaves awfully hard to figure out what's going to happen there."
Tieleman said rising NDP popularity and the potential for a vote split between the Liberal and Conservative candidates there give Jhaj a reasonable chance of winning.
He also noted the demographics of the riding could play a major role: "Clearly there's a significant South Asian population in Abbotsford. People don't vote simply on the basis of their ethnic origin, obviously, but certainly that could become a factor depending on who the Liberals nominate as well."
The riding was won handily in 2009 by van Dongen, a 17-year veteran MLA who shocked Liberal colleagues in March when he crossed the floor to the Conservatives.
Van Dongen captured 59 per cent of the votes in Abbotsford South with 9,766. Bonnie Rai, the NDP candidate, took 25 per cent of the votes with 4,188. Conservative candidate Gurcharan Dhaliwal won only six per cent with 1,019 votes.
Van Dongen crossed the floor from the B.C. Liberal Party to the Conservatives last spring, citing problems with Premier Chrisy Clark's leadership.
Plecas, an Order of Abbotsford and Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient and a father of two, has lived with his wife Joanne in Abbotsford for 35 years.