Speculation runs rampant that B.C. election looming
VICTORIA -- The chorus of calls predicting a snap fall election in B.C. is only growing louder.
Sparked by polling at the end of last month that shows Premier Horgan’s approval rating is higher than any premier in Canada, and that his party is well ahead of the second place Liberals, many political pundits are predicting Horgan will call an election a year earlier than the one scheduled for October, 2021.
Adding fuel to that fire of speculation is a steady stream of candidates coming forward to declare they intend to run for the party in the next election, including Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne, along with Horgan’s own refusal to rule out an early writ drop.
Hamish Telford is a political scientist at the University of the Fraser Valley. He says after all the hype seen in the past couple of weeks, it would be surprising if the premier didn’t call an election this fall.
“His popularity is very high now,” said Telford Tuesday. “It’s hard to imagine this level of popularity will be sustained over the winter.”
The speculation has only intensified after the results of Monday’s snap election in New Brunswick, won by Blaine Higgs and his Progressive Conservatives. The party managed to turn a minority government into a majority — in the first campaign run during the pandemic.
But rolling the dice on an early election doesn’t come without risk, notes Shachi Kurl with the Angus Reid Institute.
“There is, at this point, a running rolling start for the NDP,” she notes. “That doesn’t mean they can take anything for granted because we’ve seen campaigns go sideways in the past.”
Infamously, that fate befell David Peterson and the Ontario Liberals three decades ago.
Peterson’s Liberals had a majority government and were three years into their four-year mandate when he called a snap election, as his opinion polls were soaring.
Bob Rae and the NDP came from behind during the campaign to clutch victory on election night.
Peterson not only lost his majority, but the 1990 election.
Telford says that election stands as a cautionary tale to political strategists.
“Voters punished him,” says Telford about that snap election 30 years ago. “They said there was absolutely no need for an election. You’re just doing this so you can stay in office with a majority for another four years.”
When asked by the media Monday whether he was going to call a fall election, Horgan was non-committal.
“We’ve been preparing for the eventuality of an election since day one, and I expect all other political parties have been doing that and well,” the premier said.
Meanwhile, the BC Liberals and Green Party have been clear they oppose an early election.
Sonia Furstenau became the BC Greens new leader Monday, and on Tuesday she strongly rejected the idea of a fall election.
“It is highly unresponsive to be considering an unnecessary election right now,” Furstenau said.
While many electors may agree, whether such disapproval would affect their vote may be another thing.
Pundits are predicting if a snap election is called it could be this week or likely next — after it’s known whether a federal election will be called.
If a provincial election is called next week, electors might be going to the polls Halloween Night — delivering either a trick or a treat for Horgan’s NDP.