B.C. Premier John Horgan provides the latest update on the COVID-19 response in the province during a press conference from the rose garden at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

‘Opportunity’ for election in fall, next spring or summer, B.C. premier says

New Democrats have led a razor-thin minority government through an agreement with the Green party

B.C. Premier John Horgan isn’t ruling out a fall election despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Horgan told reporters Thursday that the government is mandated to hold an election in October next year, so, there’s “an opportunity” to do so this fall, next spring or next summer.

The New Democrats have led a razor-thin minority government through an agreement with the Green party since 2017.

The next provincial election is scheduled for Oct. 16, 2021, but it could take place earlier if the government decides to call a vote or loses the confidence of the legislative assembly.

Horgan’s comment was met by surprise and disappointment by interim Green leader Adam Olsen and Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson on Twitter.

They both pointed to the co-operation of all elected parties in the face of the pandemic and the interest of British Columbians in feeling safe rather than focus on politics.

“British Columbians would rightfully be outraged to have an unnecessary election forced on them in the midst of a pandemic,” Olsen said in a tweet.

Residents of the province want their government to be working collaboratively on fighting the pandemic and rebuilding the economy, he said.

“This cannot be put at risk for political games.”

Wilkinson said an election isn’t what people need right now, they need to know they’re safe and can take care of their families.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said her office has been working with the chief electoral officer since the early days of the pandemic to develop a plan.

She recommended that two byelections in March be rescheduled given the uncertainty but said health officials have been preparing for possible elections since then.

“We know we have a minority government both here in B.C. and federally as well as a number of byelections and other municipal elections that are scheduled in the coming months,” Henry said Thursday during her COVID-19 briefing.

“So yes, we are working with them so that we are prepared as a province for whatever comes up, whether it be the fall, next spring, next year, and that elections can happen safely.”

Elections BC says on its website that the pandemic makes it very likely that the next election will be held under some level of public health restrictions. As a result, it’s working with stakeholders to ensure it’s safe and accessible, so voters don’t have to choose between exercising their right to vote and safeguarding their health.

Some of the steps planned include increased advanced voting opportunities to reduce crowding, increasing the use of remote voting options like vote-by-mail and telephone voting for people at risk and hygiene measures at in-person voting stations.

“It is unlikely the next provincial election will be postponed because of the pandemic, but it is possible depending on the level of public health risk at the time,” Elections BC says.

Cancelled civic elections are in the process of being rescheduled, it says.

Horgan said the province has been ”a day away” from an election since the New Democrats took power.

“We have a very, very precarious balance here in B.C. and I’ve said that between now and next fall we need to have an election, it’s mandated by next October. So there’s an opportunity this fall, there’s an opportunity next spring, there’s an opportunity next summer,” he said.

In the meantime, cabinet is focused on determining how best to spend stimulus dollars to keep the economy going and to make sure people have the services they need, the premier said.

“That’s my number 1 preoccupation whether we’re in a pandemic or not.”

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC legislatureBC politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two people die in outdoor shower, in Tulameen

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

VIDEO: Crews in Summerland film Christmas parade in July

Filming, on July 31, took place during the hottest days of 2020

UPDATE: More personnel at Dry Lake fire, 43 properties remain under evacuation alert

Wildfire has been burning out of control north of Princeton for three days

Princeton man faces charges after allegedly receiving ‘drunk driving’ lesson

The incident happened in the early morning hours of Friday, Aug. 1

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

UPDATE: Water bombers attack wildfire north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Wildfire BC reports fire is still classified out of control, 25 personnel on ground

First degree murder charges for North Okanagan woman

59-year-old woman charged in Round Lake suspicious death incident

Splatsin Elder struggles to stop tubers from accessing his private property

Nathan Kinbasket has a certificate of possession on the area

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

Interior Health expands COVID-19 testing access in Kelowna

First-come, first-serve, no-appointment-needed testing centre opens in downtown Kelowna

Paper mache Dr. Bonnie Henry stars in North Okanagan exhibit

Beyond the Mask art show kicks off in Village of Lumby

Most Read