Some South Okanagan voters expressed frustration about being forced to the polls in the midst of a global pandemic, while others said they are in favour of an early general election.
On Monday, Premier John Horgan called an Oct. 24 provincial election, a full 12 months before next year’s fixed election date and violating a power-sharing agreement the NDP had with the BC Green Party.
Horgan said B.C. needs a secure and stable government to lead British Columbians through the health crisis, even though the Greens reiterated its support of the NDP’s minority government.
Some Penticton constituents felt the move was an opportunistic power grab.
“I don’t know if that is a good idea,” said voter Ralph Zandbergen.
“He is popular now, what he has done with COVID is pretty good, but I’m not sure about an election,” he said.
“I think it is a silly idea. I don’t think people are in the right frame of mind for it, I don’t think they’ve been paying that much attention to the politicians,. They are worried, they’re scared, they’re losing money, they’re losing jobs, I don’t think it’s the right time,” added his wife, Kathy.
Voter Loraine Stephanson is also dissuaded that it’s the right time for an election.
“To me, it kind of seems like opportunism,” she said, “because where we seem to be on the upper trend in terms of COVID, to kind of collapse everything right now and put people into a state of the unknown while people are worried about getting their kids back to school, they are worried about their jobs.
“I think it’s the wrong time.”
“I felt a bit dismayed because the NDP has pushed for proportional representation because apparently minority governments accomplish more, so why this now?”
Despite apprehension, the residents who spoke to Global News say they will still vote, but may take advantage of advanced voting or mail-in ballots options.
Other voters, like Marilyn Tamblyn, support Horgan’s decision to call an election during a public health emergency because the crisis is not expected to end any time soon.
“I think it is a good idea because I think we will probably get worse with the COVID, so it’s probably good to establish a stable government now,” she said.
Summerland mayor and NDP challenger Toni Boot defended her leader’s decision.
“I don’t see how moving into an election, which would be in a pandemic regardless, even next fall, I don’t see why anything would change,” she said.
Boot will attempt to unseat Liberal MLA Dan Ashton, who is seeking a third time in office.
He, too, is unconvinced B.C. needed to be plunged into electoral uncertainty this fall, as the province records record-high COVID-19 cases.
“I think it is an inappropriate time for health reasons, and I also think it’s inappropriate because fixed election dates were put in,” he said.
Ashton earned 14,470 votes in the 2017 election, or 53 per cent of the vote. Tarik Sayeed of the NDP placed second with 7,874 votes, or 28 per cent, while the BC Greens placed third.