After weeks of public speculation, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan is calling a fall election during COVID-19 pandemic.
Horgan has asked for the B.C. Legislature to be dissolved and Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin has accepted his request. Election day will be Oct. 24– ahead of the next scheduled election on Oct. 2021.
“We are not at the end of COVID-19, we are at the beginning,” Horgan said Monday. “This pandemic will be with us for a year or more and that’s why I think we need to have an election now.”
“Let’s address the differences we may have now so that we can come together after the 24th of October and work together to meet the needs of all British Columbians.”
Horgan noted this election will be unlike any other but there will be many opportunities such as advance voting and mail-in ballots to make sure everyone is able to vote safely.
“Over the next few weeks I look forward to engaging with British Columbians to focus on the events that really matter to them,” Horgan added.
A full NDP platform is set to be released soon, Horgan said.
“I want to get the election behind us, not for myself but for the people of B.C.,” he added. “I believe stability will come when the people of British Columbia identify the issues that are important to them and who they want to lead them.”
A recent poll from the Angus Reid Institute suggests if an election were held right now, the NDP would win a massive victory.
The survey suggests 48 per cent of decided voters would choose the NDP, 29 per cent would vote Liberal, and 14 per cent would opt for the Greens.
The election will be unlike any other in B.C.’s history, as politicians campaign and the public visits polling stations under a pandemic that has led to more than 200 deaths in the province and more than 950,000 worldwide.
Horgan and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson are expected to spend the bulk of the campaign in Metro Vancouver, while newly chosen Green leader Sonia Furstenau will look to grow her party’s existing three seats on Vancouver Island by running candidates in all 87 ridings.
Wilkinson says the move to call an election is ‘cynical and self serving’ from Horgan.
“For no good reason what so ever, we’re now being forced into general election, that no one in B.C. wants except the NDP,” Wilkinson said.
“The only reason for this election is to try and secure the jobs of the NDP. To make this completely clear, think about why we’re having this election, it’s not necessary. The NDP is trying to secure their employment.”
Hamish Telford, University of the Fraser Valley political scientist, told Global News in a recent interview that voters could punish the NDP for triggering a vote during COVID-19.
“There is no apparent need for an election. At least, I think that is what most people think, and he risks a voter backlash,” Telford said.
Elections BC said there will be advance voting from Friday, Oct. 16 to Wednesday, Oct. 21.
The agency is reminding voters they can cast a ballot by mail in a bid to reduce crowds at polling stations.