B.C. Premier John Horgan signalled that his NDP minority government may exit the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the BC Green Party and seek an election this fall, one year ahead of schedule.
“The Green caucus today is not the Green caucus of three years ago,” Horgan told reporters during a televised Sept. 9 appearance. “You will also know that the vast majority of the elements of CASA have been realized. You will also know that nowhere in that document will you see the word ‘pandemic.’ The world we live in today is not the world of 2017. I know that British Columbians want me to focus on 2020 and beyond, rather than looking backward to a relationship I had with the then-leader of the Green Party and his colleagues.”
The CASA governing blueprint was the catalyst for the three-member Green caucus, under leader Andrew Weaver, to vote with the 41-member opposition NDP to defeat the 43-member BC Liberal government on a confidence vote after the 2017 election. The NDP and Liberals are now tied at 41 after South Surrey-White Rock’s Tracy Redies quit in August to become the new Science World CEO.
As theBreaker.news was first to report, the NDP is eyeing Oct. 17 or 24 for the snap election, so Lt. Gov. Janet Austin would have to give her blessing by Sept. 22. The NDP is reluctant to go beyond those dates because of the expected second wave of the coronavirus during November’s flu and storm season. Elections BC has staff on standby and is negotiating leases for its offices in each of the 87 ridings.
The new Green leader will be announced Sept. 14, after the party’s eight-day election. All three candidates, Cam Brewer, Kim Darwin and Sonia Furstenau, said on theBreaker.news Podcast that they support continuing CASA, but oppose a snap fall election.
The opposition BC Liberals are also opposed to a snap election. Andrew Wilkinson’s party wants Horgan to reconvene the Legislature for the scheduled Oct. 5 to Nov. 26 sitting. The spring session was postponed for three months because of the pandemic. It ended Aug. 14.
Weaver quit as Green leader last year but continues as the independent MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. In an interview, he took no issue with Horgan’s words. He said CASA was created to get a stable government and it has done its job.
“[Horgan and the NDP] are looking for a new mandate to come out of the post-COVID world, and that new mandate would require government to spin on a dime and not have to worry about being held hostage, in some sense, by a small minority,” Weaver told theBreaker.news, referring to house leader Furstenau and interim Green leader Adam Olsen.
“I think the premier has done a super job, CASA has served B.C. well. If the premier decides to call an election that is his prerogative, I don’t think there is anything in CASA that would preclude him from doing that, particularly in light that much of CASA is done.”
The agreement triggered the electoral reform referendum, lobbying reform, ban on corporate and union political donations and a government-wide climate change plan. It requires Horgan to not request dissolution of the Legislature, except after losing a confidence vote, and there must be spring and fall sittings every year. As part of CASA, the NDP shifted B.C.’s fixed election date from May 2021 to the fall of 2021 and every four years after that.
Weaver, who is planning to return to teaching at University of Victoria, said he is confident that Elections BC can conduct a safe election during the pandemic.
“People will vote, I don’t think it will have any effect on virus response. I go to the grocery store, a bunch of people are there, every time you go you’re at risk.”
Should the NDP go to the polls this fall, it would distract from the witness testimony phase of the Cullen Commission public inquiry on money laundering. A loss to the BC Liberals would put the Cullen Commission in jeopardy of cancellation. Similarly, an election may delay the conclusion of the RCMP investigation of Legislature corruption.
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