British Columbia

B.C. NDP leads polls, survey suggests, as speculation around fall election continues

Forty-eight per cent of British Columbians surveyed by Angus Reid last week said they would vote to keep the premier's party in power if they were called to the polls later this year. 

48% of British Columbians would vote to keep NDP in power if election came this fall, survey says

Premier John Horgan pictured on June 18, 2019. A new survey says nearly half of British Columbians would vote for the NDP if a snap election took place this fall. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A new survey released Friday shows B.C.'s NDP leading the polls, as speculation continues over the possibility of a snap election this fall.

Forty-eight per cent of British Columbians surveyed by Angus Reid last week said they would vote to keep the premier's party in power if they were called to the polls later this year. 

Just under 30 per cent of decided and leaning voters said they would cast a ballot for the B.C. Liberals, while 14 per cent said they would vote for the B.C. Green Party.

Premier John Horgan is not ruling out a fall election, despite the ongoing pandemic. He declined to give a "yes or no" answer when asked about the possibility of a snap call on Thursday.

"We have been a minority government for the past three years ... we have been prepared for an election every day of that three-year period," he said. "At this point, my focus is on making sure we're providing services for people [during the pandemic]."

Fall brings 'opportunity' for election: premier

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.

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Horgan said in July there is an "opportunity'' to call an election this fall, next spring or next summer.

Opposition leader Andrew Wilkinson and Green Party interim leader Adam Olsen both responded by saying an "unnecessary" election is not the focus of British Columbians. The population, they said, is instead focused on getting through the pandemic.

An advanced polling station in Burnaby, B.C., on Oct. 11, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

An election during a pandemic

One-third of the B.C. residents who responded to the Angus Reid survey said they would feel uncomfortable heading to the polls in person this fall, compared to a normal year, due to concerns around COVID-19. 

Horgan noted Thursday officials in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are organizing elections during the pandemic, hinting Elections BC could to the same.

Elections BC's website says it's likely the next election will be held under some level of public health restrictions. As a result, the office is working with stakeholders to ensure an election would be safe and accessible.

Some of the planned steps 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.

Four in five of the survey respondents said the current government's response to the pandemic has been "good," but lamented its handling of the opioid crisis — the province's ongoing public health emergency declared in 2016. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said the government has done a "poor job" handling the opioid crisis.

The NDP has held a minority government through an agreement with the Greens since 2017.

Angus Reid conducted the online survey Aug. 26-Sept. 1 with a representative randomized sample of 655 members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

With files from The Canadian Press