World news – CA – B.C. election called for Oct. 24


Horgan met with Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin on Monday morning (Sept. 21) and said she granted his request to dissolve the legislature.

B.C. has a fixed election date set for October 2021, but Horgan argued that waiting 12 more months would be time wasted.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything — the people of British Columbia deserve a say in the direction of our recovery and the future of our province,” Horgan said.

Horgan also addressed how this election will have additional public health measures informed by the provincial public health officer to ensure the safety of everyone.

“Like a lot of things these days, this election is going to look different than previous ones. I know we can do it safely,” Horgan said. “There will be new opportunities for people to vote in advance or by a mail-in-ballot from the comfort of their homes.”

It costs an estimated $40 million or more to conduct an election, though that figure may be adjusted due to pandemic-related measures that need to be implemented.

In a poll conducted between Aug. 28 and Sept. 8 by market researcher Maru/BLUE for the National Post, Horgan holds the highest approval rating of any Canadian premier, at 69 per cent.

The NDP and B.C. Liberals were tied with 41 seats each when the legislature was dissolved.

Kamloops-North Thompson Liberal MLA (B.C. Liberal) Peter Milobar said he was not surprised to see the premier call an early election, but noted it is disappointing, describing the move as “politicizing the pandemic” at a time when many people are feeling unease and cases of the novel coronavirus are spiking.

Regardless, Milobar said his campaign will “be hitting the ground running” to give people of Kamloops the opportunity to send a message to the NDP government that this is the wrong time for an election.

Milobar said it’s clear the only reason Horgan is calling the election is to shed himself of the agreement his NDP has with the Green Party of B.C. and attempt to secure a majority government, striking when the polls are in his favour.

He also noted Horgan had been evasive for months about whether he would call an early election.

“People’s opinions do matter and people feeling like they’ve been betrayed and misled by a premier will matter and, hopefully, that all comes to pass on Oct. 24,” Milobar said.

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone was disappointed Horgan went ahead with calling an early election, describing it as reckless and irresponsible during a pandemic.

“The government is going to be in caretaker mode for likely a couple of months and that means there’s no minister of education squarely focused on the safety of our kids in the classrooms, there’s no minister of health focused on the well being of British Columbians, there’s no minister of finance focused on economic recovery,” Stone said.

Though the seasoned MLA has never been in a snap election, he said his team is ready to go, adding that under the pandemic, the campaign will be unlike any other.

“The traditional holding events and door-knocking will have to take back seats to a heck of a lot more phone calling and an even greater reliance on social media,” Stone said.

He said the snap election wasn’t needed given fixed election dates in B.C. and the commitment from the Greens to continue co-operating with the NDP until that date, adding that any lead the premier believes he has in opinion polls is likely going to evaporate with voters.

“There’s no one who wants it except for John Horgan, who’s seizing on the opportunity to further his pwn political interests,” Stone said.

Newly elected Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said Horgan’s decision to call an election in the middle of a pandemic shows he is choosing the pursuit of political power over the health and safety of the public.

“As British Columbians are continuing to make sacrifices due to COVID-19, Horgan is choosing his own political fortunes over doing his job to serve them,” Furstenau said. “There is no legitimate justification for this election. The premier has a stable government. I met with him on Friday (Sept, 18) and made it clear that we were willing to continue to work together in the best interest of British Columbians.”

Kamloops-North Thompson NDP constituency association president Rick Turner said the riding plans to announce its candidate by the end of the week or early next week.

He said there is one person going through the vetting process to receive party approval.

Turner said the NDP has a policy preferring female or visible minority candidates, which the Kamloops-North Thompson riding association is honouring with the choice.

Asked about the controversy surrounding calling an early election, Turner said he thinks Horgan has made the right call.

He said since former Green leader Andrew Weaver stepped down from his post for health reasons in January, the working relationship between the two parties hasn’t worked as it should.

“Mr. Horgan does need that mandate where he knows he has all the support he needs to get a recovery plan in place that will carry on from now for a few years to come, not only to deal with our safety from this virus, but also an economic recovery,” Turner said.

As for how physical-distancing protocols will work, Turner said he understands those details have been worked out with Elections BC.

He believes the polls will be open for much longer than in elections past because of the need for physical distancing, while mail-in ballots will be utilized, noting that option has been done en masse before with B.C.’s votes on proportional representation.

Kamloops -South Thompson NDP constituency association president Bill Roberts said the riding is still in the process of finding a candidate and hopes to have someone in place as soon as possible.

Asked about the criticism of the NDP calling the election amidst the pandemic, Roberts said he felt it “a legitimate point of view,” but noted the election has been called and will be going forward regardless of the debate.

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