VICTORIA -- Murray Rankin, former Member of Parliament for Victoria and current chair of Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, has announced he is seeking the B.C. NDP nomination for the Oak Bay – Gordon Head riding.

Rankin says that it was “not an easy decision” to make his announcement, but ultimately decided to run for the position due to the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the province.

“The pandemic has changed all of our lives; the challenges it has created require urgent attention,” said Rankin in a statement Wednesday.

“At a time when people are counting on the government to stand with them, we can’t risk turning back the clock on all progress we’ve made,” he said.

Rankin was the MP for Victoria from 2012 to 2019 and was appointed the chair of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency in September 2019.

His announcement furthers speculation that the B.C. NDP will call an early provincial election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rumours of a snap fall election are swirling as former B.C. NDP cabinet ministers have recently announced they are not seeking re-election, while at the same time many politicians are announcing their interest in B.C. NDP nominations.

On Tuesday, Tofino Mayor Josie Osbourne expressed her interest in running for the Mid-Island Pacific Rim riding.

Hamish Telford, a political scientist at the University of the Fraser Valley, tells CTV News that he would be surprised if B.C. Premier John Horgan didn’t announce a snap election, given all of the announcements that have taken place across the province over the past several weeks.

“His popularity is very high now,” said Telford Tuesday. “It’s hard to imagine this level of popularity will be sustained over the winter.”

Other political leaders have been quick to condemn any thoughts of an early election this year.

Newly elected BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau said Tuesday that it would be irresponsible to call a snap election amid the pandemic.

“It is highly unresponsive to be considering an unnecessary election right now,” she said.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, in the midst of rising COVID numbers, and in the midst of the anxiety people feel about their children in school, about the economic uncertainty, this is a highly irresponsible time to be playing politics,” said Furstenau.

B.C.’s next fixed election date is set for October 2021.