Senior Digital Producer, CTV News Vancouver Island
British Columbians will head to polls in a snap election next month, three years after the ruling NDP formed a minority government in the province.
Premier John Horgan announced the Oct. 24 general election in a live news conference Monday after asking the lieutenant-governor to dissolve parliament.
« I’ve struggled mightily with this decision and it did not come easily to me, » Horgan said from outside his Langford home.
While B.C. has a fixed election date set for October 2021, the premier said waiting another 12 months would hamper government efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
« This pandemic will be with us for a year or more and that is why I believe we need to have an election now, » Horgan said. « To wait for the next election seems to me like time wasted when we could all be rolling up our sleeves and focusing on the things that matter most to British Columbians. »
Horgan’s popularity with voters has soared during the pandemic, attaining the highest approval rating of any Canadian premier, according to one poll last month.
A similar survey conducted in July found Horgan garnered the highest reviews of any B.C. political leader in the last eight years.
As of Monday, however, seven of the premier’s cabinet ministers have announced they will not run in the coming election.
Among them are Transportation Minister Claire Trevena; Finance Minister Carole James; Jobs and Economic Development Minister Michelle Mungall; Social Development Minister Shane Simpson; Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser; Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy; and Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
Horgan used his announcement Monday to take an early jab at the Opposition, saying he expected the Liberals to focus on the « wealthy and well-connected » instead of everyday British Columbians.
Horgan’s minority government was forged out of an agreement with the B.C. Green party in 2017.
The premier said the arrangement with the Greens has changed after former Green leader Andrew Weaver stepped down from the position in January.
Over the coming 32-day campaign, Carole James, who also serves as the deputy premier, will act as the « stay-behind minister » in Horgan’s place.
« There is not a person in British Columbia that I have more confidence in than her, » Horgan said. « I am sure that she will administer the government of British Columbia to meet the needs of British Columbians as issues arise in a way that will do us all proud. »
The premier said early voting and mail-in ballots will be encouraged during the election and said his campaign will « fully comply with public health directions » during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The Oct. 24 general voting day is a Saturday. Advanced voting will be held at polls across the province between Oct. 16 and Oct. 21.
Premier John Horgan announced the Oct. 24 general election in a live news conference Monday after asking the lieutenant-governor to dissolve parliament. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
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