Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA not opposed to snap election, as B.C. NDP aim to fill seat
VICTORIA -- The buzz around the B.C. legislature that a snap election could be coming was fed more fuel Wednesday, with the announcement that former NDP MP Murray Rankin is seeking the NDP nomination for the provincial government in Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
“I thought, ‘This is an important time in history,’ so I’m delighted to be seeking the candidacy for the NDP in Oak Bay Gordon Head,” Rankin told CTV Wednesday.
Rankin is running in hopes of ultimately being the MLA in former BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver’s riding. Weaver stepped down as leader of the party in January and left the party the same month for health reasons. He now sits as an independent and had previously announced that he was not running in the next election, whenever it’s called.
There are now already three potential candidates vying to be MLA in his riding next time around. Weaver said Wednesday he isn’t endorsing any candidate, but did describe Rankin as having “great credibility”.
“It’s quite exciting to see the level of competition that’s going to be happening here, and I think that’s quite exciting for this riding,” Weaver said.
Weaver was the co-architect of the CASA agreement that thrust the NDP into power in 2017 — a confidence and supply agreement that ensured Green support for the minority government and a pledge of no surprise elections.
The idea that Premier Horgan might call a snap election, considering his and his party’s current popularity in recent polls, has drawn some criticism, including from former advisor to Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party, Norman Spector.
Spector penned an open letter to B.C. Lieutenant-Governor, Janet Austin, that condemned a potential snap election.
In his letter, Spector advised Austin to counsel Horgan to reconsider his decision if he asked her to dissolve parliament.
Citing Horgan’s CASA agreement with Weaver and the Greens, the ongoing pandemic, and the fact that the province has legislated fixed election dates, Spector told CTV Wednesday that he thinks Horgan risks hurting his political legacy if he calls a snap election.
“I think the Lieutenant-Governor should counsel the premier, advise him to go away and take a famous second look — to go away, look himself in the mirror,” said Spector.
Meanwhile, the Liberals and their leader, Andrew Wilkinson, have strongly opposed an election before the legislated date in October, 2021.
Similarly, the Greens — who have a new leader, Sonia Furstenau — have also said a fall election would be off-side.
But Weaver told CTV Wednesday not only would he understand if Horgan called a snap election, he doesn’t think doing so would run afoul of the CASA.
“Were Premier Horgan to call an election I would unequivocally say his reasons to do so would not be a violation of CASA,” said Weaver.
Weaver said the goals of CASA were largely achieved and the agreement had sustained a minority government for a remarkably long time.
“It’s very difficult to find any minority governments that have lasted as long as we have in British Columbia. It’s been quite remarkable what’s been accomplished,” he said.
The former Greens leader also said changes since the agreement was made — including the pandemic, as well as to the Greens themselves — meant that the premier would be justified in calling a snap election.
“And you know he sees a different approach, a different forward, because things are different now. We didn’t envision a COVID pandemic,” said Weaver.
Weaver also pointed to instances this summer when the two remaining Greens — Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau — did not support the NDP on several bills, including the portion of one that was intended to give Cabinet the ability to approve supplemental spending three months after a state of emergency ends without prior recourse to the legislature.
“To have gone through the summer session and seen two individuals essentially hamper and hijack the government’s ability to turn on a dime in the COVID crisis, to me, was very troubling,” said Weaver.
“I understand if he was to call an election.”
How the various parties and how their current and former leaders feel about a snap election is one thing. How the electors feel about heading to the voting polls is another thing.
Based on what seems now like a steady stream of NDP MLA’s or candidates declaring their intentions in the next election, we may find out how the provinces’ electors feel in the coming weeks.