Bob Mackin (Updated Aug. 30 and Sept. 3)
British Columbians could be going to the polls Oct. 17 or 24.
theBreaker.news exclusively reported that Elections BC staff were told to be ready to begin work as early as Sept. 1. Now, a source connected to Elections BC, but not authorized to comment publicly, has told theBreaker.news that there is a window from Sept. 12-22 in which Premier John Horgan could ask Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin to dissolve the Legislature.
NDP backroomers are eager to use favourable polling and exploit the weak BC Liberal opposition to transform the NDP minority into a majority. By next week, the NDP and BC Liberals will be tied at 41 seats apiece when BC Liberal Tracy Redies formally resigns her Surrey-White Rock seat to become the new CEO of Science World. A by-election to fill the vacancy must be held no later than March 29, 2021 or held in conjunction with a general election.
The two-seat BC Greens are scheduled to vote Sept. 5-13 for a new leader, with the announcement of the winner on Sept. 14. An election could be triggered if the new leader opts out of the confidence and supply agreement that helped Horgan form government in July 2017. The remaining two seats in the Legislature are held by independents, ex-Green leader Andrew Weaver and Speaker Darryl Plecas.
Under Elections BC’s provisional schedule, which is known by top officials, a writ day of Sept. 14 or 15 would mean an Oct. 17 general voting day.
If the writ day is between Sept. 16 and 22, general voting day would be Oct. 24.
It is believed the NDP would rather delay the election until spring instead of go to the polls on Hallowe’en or in November, the beginning of coastal storm season, flu season and an expected second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Horgan acknowledged to reporters in July and August that an election is possible this fall, despite the Oct. 16, 2021 fixed election date. On Sept. 3, Horgan refused to rule out an election this fall, despite the worsening coronavirus pandemic in B.C.
Elections BC spokesman Andrew Watson confirmed in a written statement to theBreaker.news that the agency is actively searching for offices in each of the province’s 87 ridings.
“We will be securing space for district electoral offices throughout the province in September, in case an early election is called this fall. If it becomes clear that an early election won’t be called this fall, we will end these leases. In a scheduled election, offices are rented about a month before the election is called,” Watson said.
“If an election is called having space available is critically important to meet legislated requirements and timelines. A key consideration currently is that the pandemic makes it more challenging to secure space on short notice, as site visits must be scheduled well in advance and public health protocols must be followed. Securing space before a potential election call is an election management practice that has been done in other jurisdictions with minority governments.”
From June 25 to July 16, Government Communications and Public Engagement ran six telephone town halls to showcase swing riding NDP incumbents Bob D’Eith (Maple Ridge-Mission), Lisa Beare (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows), Ravi Kahlon (Delta North), George Heyman (Vancouver-Fairview), Bowinn Ma (North Vancouver-Lonsdale) and Jinny Sims (Surrey-Panorama). The key contractor for the taxpayer-funded project was telephone town hall specialist and NDP pollster and data miner Stratcom.
Elections BC has already said that a pandemic-time election would include increased advanced voting, vote-by-mail and phone voting.
Elections BC Tweeted Aug. 24 that it was taking applications for district electoral office staff, including office managers, technical officers, trainers, recruitment officers and office support. “Apply by August 28!”
Three days later, on Aug. 27, it announced the deadline for temporary employment had been extended to Aug. 30 for clerical and administrative support jobs.
The B.C. New Democrat Caucus launched a Facebook ad campaign on Aug. 25, hyping a Globe and Mail headline that reads: “B.C. among the provinces best positioned to rebound.” Facebook ad library shows that the New Democrat Caucus has bought four ads on Facebook and two on Instagram.
Meanwhile, a former NDP aide is seeking the BC Liberal nod in Cariboo-Chilcotin. Mike Geoghegan, a Victoria lobbyist who relocated to Williams Lake, is hoping to contest the seat being vacated by the retiring Donna Barnett. Geoghan was a ministerial assistant in the Mike Harcourt NDP administration from 1991 to 1996.
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