British Columbia

B.C. premier doesn't rule out snap election, as two cabinet members declare they won't run again

On a day when New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs won a majority following a snap election call in a minority government, B.C. Premier John Horgan fanned the flames of speculation he was hoping to do the same.

As B.C. Liberals, Green Party criticize potential election, Horgan says they should be prepared for anything

When asked by reporters, Premier John Horgan has refused to rule out calling an election in B.C. before the end of the month. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

On an election day in New Brunswick where Premier Blaine Higgs won a majority — following a snap election call in a minority legislature — B.C. Premier John Horgan fanned the flames of speculation he was hoping to do the same.

"We've been preparing for the eventuality of an election since day one, and I expect all other political parties have been as well," said Horgan at a news conference Monday, refusing to directly answer several questions as to whether he would ask the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the legislature.

"I'm going to focus on the here and the now … my number one priority is the well-being of British Columbians."

Horgan made his comments shortly before two of his cabinet ministers — Forests Minister Doug Donaldson and Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser — announced within hours of each other they would not be seeking re-election, 10 days after fellow cabinet minister Shane Simpson made the same announcement. 

Neither Donaldson (MLA for Stikine) nor Fraser (MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim) gave an explanation as to why they were making the announcement now. NDP supporters rumoured to be considering campaigns to replace them declined comment. 

It's widely believed that any election for 2020 would need to be called in the next two weeks in order to avoid the influenza season and a potential surge in COVID-19 cases. 

2017 agreement with Greens void?

Under the 2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) signed with the B.C. Green Party, Horgan "will not request a dissolution of the legislature during the term of the agreement, except following the defeat of a motion of confidence."

Minutes after she was announced as the Green Party's new leader Monday, Sonia Furstenau called an election "completely unnecessary" and "irresponsible," arguing it was the type of partisan politics voters were opposed to.   

"To John Horgan I say: you have a responsibility to govern. Not play politics," she said. 

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson made similar arguments on Monday. 

"There's lots of work to do. And when John Horgan says he wants an election to help out his own future, you have to ask: who does that?"

But Horgan refuted the argument it was inappropriate to be considering sending British Columbians to the polls during a pandemic. 

"When CASA … was created, we did not think that a global pandemic was something we would have to consider," he said.

"The situation today is not the situation last year or, certainly, 2017."

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