A plethora of emails, and we’re not talking a smattering, but rather a full-on deluge, have been hitting newsroom inboxes in the past week announcing massive spending commitments in B.C. – a clear indicator of what John Horgan was about to do.
On Monday morning, the premier requested that the provincial lieutenant governor, Janet Austin, call the next election. And she did. We go to the polls on Oct. 24 – less than a month from now.
B.C.’s election law specifies a minimum 28-day campaign period, but does running such a short election campaign really give voters ample time to learn all they should know about their candidates?
Given the pandemic, this really is not the time for a “snap” election. For one very big, obvious reason – COVID – we should not have gone to the polls until next fall, as planned.
Shame on you, Mr. Horgan. This is nothing short of selfish and self-serving – especially when you cut off several of the most effective forums for the public to access candidates face-to-face and learn their stance on issues. By holding the election in the midst of a pandemic, you’ve eliminated door-to-door campaigning and in-person all-candidate meeting, for example.
Horgan argued that he did this to stabilize the province. Outgoing Langley East MLA Rich Coleman had a good point – the government was not facing a confidence vote because all parties agreed not to politicize COVID. So much for that promise.
The NDP leader is really hoping by making this move now, that the party can solidify its footing – counting on a low turnout, in large part due to the virus.
Similarly, he’s hopeful aspiring MLAs will not have sufficient time to mount a proper campaign, which might just help ensure a New Democrat victory that does away with the current minority government.
Speaking of COVID, it’s also interesting that the premier didn’t seek counsel from one of his primary confidants of late – namely Dr. Bonnie Henry. In fact, Horgan has deferred to the provincial health officer on every step of the province’s response to COVID-19, except this surprise election.
Let’s assume for a moment that an election can be held safely, the question remains, should it be held at all right now?
Not at a time when almost daily we’re seeing record-breaking numbers of new COVID cases in B.C. Yet, Horgan thinks it’s the time to take people’s eye off the ball, to strip all the key provincial government players (like Health Minister Adrian Dix) of their official duties, and focus instead on political yammering.
Horgan’s efforts to shore up his foothold could backfire. When people vote Oct. 24, they might not be too happy that he sent them to the polls during a pandemic.
• Stay tuned, to the Langley Advance Times online and print editions. We’ll do our best to bring you well-rounded local election coverage in the days and weeks to come.