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Some facts, issues in B.C. politics as the provincial election campaign begins

bc-legislature-jamey-ekinsshutterstock
B.C.'s legislature in Victoria. (via Jamey Ekins)

Voters in B.C. will go to the polls on Oct. 24.

Premier John Horgan officially called for a snap-election Monday morning (Sept. 21) after having a meeting with Lt. Gov. Janet Austin.

Here's a look at some of the major issues facing British Columbia at the start of the provincial election campaign:

COVID-19

Cases are rising in British Columbia, which set a daily record of 165 new cases last Thursday. In response to the spike in cases, the provincial health officer recently ordered the immediate closure of nightclubs and banquet halls, and a tightening of rules that bars, pubs, lounges and restaurants are allowed to operate under.

The Economy

The next government is facing large economic problems caused by the pandemic. In the latest financial outlook released earlier this month, an economic decline of 6.7 per cent was forecast this year, while the budget is projected to post a deficit of almost $13 billion for the 2020-21 fiscal year after a surplus was predicted in the spring budget.

The Election

With uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the opposition parties are expected to try and make Premier John Horgan's decision to call an early election a central issue in the campaign. The next election was scheduled for October 2021 and Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said Monday there "is no legitimate justification for this election."

Leadership

Horgan is fighting his second election as party leader and has served as premier for the past three years, while this is the first campaign for B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and Green Leader Sonia Furstenau.

In addition, here are some facts about our provincial politics you need to know:

— The NDP formed a minority government in 2017 with support from the Green party after finishing on election night with two fewer seats than the B.C. Liberals, while the Greens had an election breakthrough, winning three seats and holding the balance of power.

— The last time B.C. had a minority government before that was in 1952 and the NDP's rise to power in 2017 ended a 16-year span outside government.

— The B.C. Liberals were in power from 2001 to 2017.

— Andrew Wilkinson became leader of the Liberal party in February 2018, replacing Christy Clark.

— John Horgan was acclaimed NDP leader in 2014 and first won a seat in the legislature in 2005.

— Sonia Furstenau has been on the job for about a week, being elected to lead the Greens on Sept. 14.

— This election has 87 seats up for grabs. At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats. The Greens held two seats, there were two Independents and one seat was vacant.

— The Liberal Party of British Columbia is not affiliated with the Liberal Party of Canada and describes itself as "a made-in-B.C. free enterprise coalition."

— The NDP was in power from 1991 to 2001 with four different party leaders during its time in office.

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