British Columbians are going to have an election earlier than scheduled.
The next provincial election was supposed to be held in October 2021, but the ruling B.C. NDP party of New Democrat Premier John Horgan triggered a snap election.
On September 21, Lieutenan-Governor Janet Austin agreed to Horgan’s request to dissolve the B.C. legislature.
Austin also consented to Horgan’s wish for an October 24 provincial election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NDP held 41 of the 87 seats in the legislature at dissolution. The B.C. Greens, who support the B.C. NDP through an agreement, had two seats.
The opposition B.C. Liberals had 41 seats following the resignation of Tracey Reddies, who represented Surrey–White Rock as MLA.
Speaker Darryl Plecas and former B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver were independents.
“I have just met with the Lieutenant Governor and she has agreed with my request to hold an election on October 24,” Horgan said on September 21.
“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,” he said.
The B.C. NDP minority government, with the support of the B.C. Green Party, ruled over three years.
“We’ve made a lot of progress for people over the last three years. We invested in healthcare and schools. We build transit, housing and childcare centres. We eliminated the MSP—the largest middle-class tax cut in BC history—and during this pandemic, we kept people safe while staying focused on what matters,” Horgan said.
B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson slammed Horgan and the B.C. NDP for calling an early election amid COVID-19.
On September 22, Wilkinson said that Horgan “dissolved the BC Legislature and engineered an unnecessary and irresponsible early election”.
“He is leaving British Columbians without a functioning government at a time when people needed leadership most,” Wilkinson said.
“Let’s be clear: John Horgan and the NDP’s decision to call this election, in the middle of a global pandemic, is nothing more than an irresponsible and cynical attempt to increase his own power,” Wilkinson said.
The B.C. Greens, who support the B.C. NDP, expressed disappointment over Horgan’s call for an early election.
On September 21, Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Green Party, said Horgan’s request for an early election in the middle of a pandemic shows that he is choosing the pursuit of political power over the health and safety of the people of B.C.
“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,” said Furstenau.
“There is no legitimate justification for this election. The Premier has a stable government. I met with him on Friday and made it clear that we were willing to continue to work together in the best interest of British Columbians. This election call is blatantly about the NDP seeing an opportunity – even in the midst of a pandemic – to put their own self interest ahead of yours,” the B.C. Green leader said.
Furstenau also said: “For the next month, his Ministers will be on the campaign trail instead of working with the Provincial Health Officer to manage this pandemic, which as we know changes daily. This is politics at its worst. At a time when we need people to trust that we are working together on their behalf, the NDP has thrown out the window the cooperation that has seen B.C. chart a positive course in the pandemic.”
Furstenau added: “For three years we have worked in good faith with this government to push for policies that will make our province stronger. The B.C. Greens have driven many of the significant gains, such as the Clean BC climate policy, banning big money and early childhood education and child care. Right now, people are worried about their health and safety, the cost of living and the stability of our economy.”