Voters in B.C. are heading to the polls earlier than expected.
Premier John Horgan met with the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of B.C., this morning (Sept. 21), then announced she accepted the request to dissolve parliament, triggering a sudden election scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24.
"I want everyone to know I have struggled mightily with this decision, and it did not come easy to me," Horgan said.
He cited the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to address it, as one of the reasons for calling an early election.
"This pandemic will be with us for a year or more, and that's why I believe we need to have an election now," Horgan said. "We can either delay that decision and create uncertainty and instablility over the next 12 months -- more speculation, more talk about what might be -- or we can do what I believe is always the right thing and that's ask British Columbians what they think."
In calling a snap election, Horgan is violating B.C.'s fixed election statute. In 2001, the former BC Liberal government enshrined fixed election dates into the Constitution Act. The next provincial election should be held in October, 2021.
The Horgan government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in high approval ratings, so Horgan is no doubt banking on that to secure a majority, and free his government from the Green Party's influence.
The B.C. Conservative Party also posted on its Facebook page, saying Horgan cares more about politics.
Voting day was scheduled to originally take place in May 2021.
Before today's announcement, in recent weeks, six NDP MLAs announced they were not seeking re-election, which fueled the fire of a possible snap-election.
Those MLAs are:
- Michelle Mungall - Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness
- Doug Donaldson - Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development
- Scott Fraser - Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
- Judy Darcy - Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
- Shane Simpson - Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
- Carole James - Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier (not seeing re-election due to illness)
- Claire Trevena - Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
Official opposition and B.C. Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson will address the media at 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, newly elected B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau took to Twitter to voice her displeasure in Horgan's decision. The party helped the NDP secure government in the 2017 election, ousting Christy Clark and the Liberals, who were in power for the previous 16 years.
I met with @jjhorgan on Friday and told him he had a stable government. This election is completely unnecessary.— SoniaFurstenau (@SoniaFurstenau) September 21, 2020
The NDP has chosen the pursuit of power over the health and safety of British Columbians. #bcpoli
- with files from Nelson Bennett, Business In Vancouver