“The best way forward is to put politics behind us.”
The words John Horgan said on the first day of his snap fall election. British Columbians will go to the polls Oct. 24 — 51 weeks ahead of schedule.
Horgan appeared before his first live audience of reporters in four months, in a Langford cul-de-sac, to announce he called an election in a state of emergency.
Over his right shoulder, two green garbage cans. Over his left, orange goalposts.
If he loses, this will become an own goal, akin to Dave Barrett’s fall 1975 snap election loss.
As for the garbage cans, the two-member Green caucus, leader Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen, is angry after Horgan tossed the Confidence and Supply Agreement without the required mutual consent amendment or recall of the Legislature for a confidence vote.
Horgan blamed two bills in the summer session that didn’t get Green support and a Green amendment without consulting the finance minister. Furstenau said CASA did not require total obedience.
“We’re asking British Columbians to engage in their public life, to give advice and counsel to where they want to go and who they want to lead them,” Horgan said. “It’s never a bad idea to do that, I’m firmly convinced of that.”
Government House would not confirm or deny that Horgan met with Lt. Gov. Janet Austin on the last day of summer at the Empress Hotel. Austin is staying at a downtown hotel while renovations occur. She is also using an office on Douglas Street. They met for an hour. Oddly, Austin later hosted Elections BC chief Anton Boegman on the grounds of Government House to sign the official election writs.
At dissolution, the NDP and BC Liberals were tied at 41. BC Liberals had a one-seat edge until Aug. 31 when Tracy Redies quit South Surrey White Rock to become the new Science World CEO). The Greens are the third party with two seats and there were two independents, ex-Green leader Andrew Weaver and Speaker Darryl Plecas. Neither are running.
Seven say bye
Not seeking re-election are NDP cabinet members Shane Simpson (social development), Michelle Mungall (jobs, economic development and competitiveness), Judy Darcy (mental health and addictions), Scott Fraser (indigenous relations and reconciliation), Doug Donaldson (forests, lands and natural resources), Claire Trevena and Carole James (finance). James will act as a caretaker minister, a de facto premier, during the election.
Controversy out of the gate
Former Tahltan Nation president Annita McPhee learned by press release that her bid to become the Stikine candidate was over and that lobbyist and ex-MP Nathan Cullen would be the northern riding’s candidate. McPhee was relying on the NDP’s affirmative action policy, the equity mandate, that requires a retiring white male be replaced by a political minority.
On the day Horgan called the election, Henry announced 366 new cases of coronavirus since the previous Friday’s report, for a total 8,208 (1,987 active).
Four new deaths, for a total 227. Twenty-one of the 60 hospitalized are in intensive care.
What the leaders said
“When it comes to our schools, safe operations of our schools is not the responsibility of the premier. It’s the responsibility of school boards, administrators, trustees.”
“I didn’t discuss an election directly with Dr. Henry.”
“The election is not an issue I needed to raise with her.”
“It is irresponsible for John Horgan to suggest anything other than him putting his political future and his party’s fortune ahead of the people of B.C., this has been a historically positive three years for B.C., we were absolutely committed to continuing with it, it is him that made the decision to tear down and tear up this agreement.”
BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson:
“In the middle of a pandemic as the case count in B.C. is the highest in the country per capita, and rising fast, why do we need the upset and turmoil of a general election?”
Dr. Bonnie Henry:
“Premier Horgan did not ask for my advice around calling a general election and nor would I expect him to.”
Said on social
Many on social media were neither enthused or amused by the snap election call.
Singer Raffi on Twitter didn’t buy Horgan’s spin, that B.C. would have been subject to another 12 months of partisan politics before the scheduled Oct. 16, 2021 election.
Norman Spector, who helped negotiate the CASA for the Greens, had harsh words for Henry and Horgan.
“Bonnie Henry started by saying COVID is her priority, but it’s starting to appear that she’s complicit in this unnecessary election,” Spector tweeted. “Horgan *himself* set the next election for ‘the third Saturday in October in the fourth calendar year following the general voting day for the most recently held general election’. Then he broke his CASA word and asked the LG for an election.”
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