Snap election speculation mounts after B.C. premier comments on 2017 deal with Greens
'You know full well that the Green caucus today is not the Green caucus of 3 years ago,' said John Horgan
B.C. Premier John Horgan's recent comments about a 2017 agreement with former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver — who left the party to sit as an independent — are fostering more speculation that he will call a fall election in the coming weeks.
The "confidence and supply agreement" was originally signed after the last provincial election to give the NDP the support of 44 MLAs — their 41 members plus the three Green MLAs — which is the minimum number required to have a majority of support in the 87-seat legislature. The Liberals had 43 seats at the time.
The B.C. Green caucus pledged to vote with the NDP minority government on confidence motions, including budgets and throne speeches based on the principle of "good faith and no surprises" to maintain the agreement, according to the party's website.
However, the NDP's relationship with the Greens has cooled in the past three years.
Horgan was asked about the agreement with the B.C. Green caucus on Wednesday and he noted how the situation has changed.
"You know full well that the Green caucus today is not the Green caucus of three years ago," he said.
Former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver left the party in January to sit as an independent MLA in the legislature.
Horgan explained circumstances for the government have changed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"And you will also know that nowhere in that document will you see the word pandemic. So the world we live in today is not the world of 2017," he said.
"And I know that British Columbians want me to focus on 2020 and beyond rather than looking backward to a relationship I had with the then leader of the Green Party and his colleagues."
His comments are leading to more talk about a possible snap election this fall.
B.C. Greens say fall election is unwelcome
Green Party interim leader Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, said in a statement that an election in the midst of the global pandemic would be putting political interests ahead of British Columbians.
"British Columbians don't want an election. They want their politicians to be working to address the consequences of the pandemic," said Olsen.
He called a fall election "unnecessary" and "irresponsible" as the province fights to hold back a second wave.
Pandemic adds more 'unpredictability' to results
University of the Fraser Valley political scientist Hamish Telford weighed in on the recent election speculation and said there are possible risks and rewards for the NDP heading into a fall election.
He said Horgan's popularity in the polls is running high but he questions whether it will remain that way as the pandemic continues.
"Right now, the government has done a lot to address the pandemic, a lot of extra spending. But if we wait until an election next year as scheduled, that's when the chickens come home to roost. How are they going to pay for all of this?"
Another negative, said Telford, to calling an election now is that it could be perceived by voters as opportunistic.
"I think people right now are very worried about the start of school. We don't know how that's going to roll out. And if it rolls out really well, then he could get credit for that in the election. But if things go sideways with the roll-out of school, that could be problematic."
He also questioned how voters will feel heading to polling stations during a global pandemic.