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Provincial election in B.C. called for Oct. 24

Summary

Premier John Horgan is expected to call a fall election on Monday, amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Premier was to meet with Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin and afterward plans to address the public

An election would likely take place on Oct. 24

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — NDP leader John Horgan announced Monday a fall election will be held Oct 24, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He met with Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin and said she is granted his request to dissolve the Legislative Assembly.

The general election will be held in B.C. on Saturday, Oct. 24.

” I firmly believe that this is not a 12-month exercise. We have four years ahead of us, where we all need to work together. And for 12 months to wait for the next election seems to me to be time wasted,” Horgan said.

He added the instability created when Andrew Weaver stepped down as leader of the B.C. Green Party contributed to the decision to request an election.

“We have 12 months remaining in the mandate of this government, but we have a four-year project or longer ahead of us. We have had, as you know, through the summer some challenges with passing legislation. The stability that I believe we had over the course of our minority government is not as strong as it was when we began,” Horgan said.

“The challenges of partisanship within the legislature will always be there, but particularly this summer it was clear to me that there is a great divide between the two sides and the best way forward is to allow those who no longer want to represent their communities because of long service — I know there are seven within my caucus, at least seven within the Liberal group and, of course, Mr. Weaver who are moving on. So now is the best time, it seems to me, at the beginning of the pandemic, to renew the legislature.”

Because of the pandemic, Elections BC has been making preparations for months, to ensure voting can be done safely.

It’s also expected voters will use mail-in and advanced polling options more this year than in the past to cast ballots. The last time that happened was in 2017, after then-premier Christy Clark failed to win the confidence of the house.

This time, the election is happening as Horgan is high in the polls and the Liberals and B.C. Green parties are reorganizing.

With fixed election dates, the next election was to take place Oct. 16, 2021. Calling an early election breaks an agreement with the Greens to go to the polls only if the NDP loses the confidence of the legislature.

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A provincial election had been speculated for weeks.

Horgan said last week, after the B.C. Green Party voted Sonia Furstenau as its new leader, that he hadn’t decided whether to call an election.

Furstenau says in a tweet that she met with Horgan Friday and told him he had a stable government.

“This election is completely unnecessary,” she said. “The NDP has chosen the pursuit of power over the health and safety of British Columbians.”

An Angus Reid Institute poll last month showed Horgan’s approval rating is the highest of any premier in Canada at 69 per cent. The poll also found how well a province is handling the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t necessarily correlate to the popularity of its leader.

COVID-19 cases have surged in B.C. since summer, with the single-day record broken multiple times. The record of 165 cases was set on Thursday.

In recent weeks, as many as seven NDP cabinet ministers announced they won’t be seeking re-elections.

New Brunswick held a provincial election last week. Saskatchewan is also planning a provincial election.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is asking the province to consider using spaces other than schools for election voting.

“School communities are under immense pressure and we are dealing with huge pandemic-related challenges. It’s not a good time to open up to others,” the BCTF says a tweet.

Horgan is expected to address the public at 11 a.m. You can catch it live here.

The NDP won 43 seats in the 2017 provincial election. The Liberals took 43 seats, while the Greens won three.