British Columbians are headed to the polls for an Oct. 24 provincial election.
Speaking from his home riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca Monday morning, B.C. premier John Horgan announced he was calling the election, after a few weeks of heated speculation, and after meeting with Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin to request the Legislature be dissolved.
"None of us thought this would be how we would spend 2020," said Horgan of both the current COVID-19 pandemic as well as the province's foray into an election a year ahead of schedule.
Horgan said he "struggled mightily with this decision and it did not come easily."
"To wait for the next election seems to me to be time wasted," added the premier.
Horgan pointed to several accomplishments of his leadership and the BC NDP over the last three and a half years, including eliminating MSP premiums, climate action, and middle-class tax cuts.
In particular, Horgan is focused on B.C.'s middle class in his campaign; the premier emphasized his role as MLA in Langford, representing a what he describes as a constituency of hardworking people, who are aware of the "blessing of being British Columbians," but who also "want to make sure their government is secure, stable, and focused 24/7" on their needs, hopes, aspirations.
Horgan reasoned that his opposition would be focusing on the "wealthy and connected."
However, Horgan noted that to wait another year until the scheduled election would result in more bickering among leadership, with fewer results, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Horgan anchored much of his reasoning for calling the election as being tied to COVID-19, noting that British Columbians are facing uncertainty and want a stable government that can address the long-range concerns about the pandemic. He also said that he is not overly concerned that COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings will affect the campaigning or voting process, or be unsafe in any way.
"Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions," said Horgan.
Speculation around a snap election has percolated for weeks until now with the premier evading the question while at the same time saying the NDP is election ready and that a power-sharing agreement with the B.C. Greens to form a minority government which commits the party to a fixed election date in October 2021 as less relevant today because of the pandemic.
Both Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and new Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau have criticized Horgan in recent weeks over the potential of a snap election.
The provincial government made more than a dozen "announcements" on Sunday — a day when government public affairs offices usually go silent — including new affordable housing units in Kelowna and a new hospital tower in Prince George.
Several cabinet ministers have recently announced they won’t seek re-election including Michelle Mungall, minister of jobs, economic development and competitiveness; Shane Simpson, the minister of social development and poverty reduction; Scott Fraser, Indigenous relations and reconciliation minister; Doug Donaldson, forests minister; and Judy Darcy, minister of mental health and addictions; and Claire Trevena, minister of transportation.
Finance Minister Carole James announced in March she wouldn’t be seeking re-election in Victoria-Beacon Hill for health reasons.
With files from Cindy Harnett/Times Colonist and Colin Dacre/Castanet