A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito

British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Voters in British Columbia are casting ballots today in an election campaign that was largely defined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date.

He argued the province needs a majority government to deal with the uncertainty caused by the new coronavirus.

Calling the election was a gamble for Horgan, who faced criticism from B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and Green Leader Sonia Furstenau for pulling the plug on his minority government.

They called the move unnecessary at a time when people need stability, but Horgan said that’s exactly what he is seeking.

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats, there were two Independents and one seat was vacant.

In calling the election on Sept. 21, Horgan said the pandemic was a central factor in deciding to seek a new mandate, adding that he “grappled” with the decision.

“This pandemic will be with us for a year or more and that’s why I believe we need to have an election now,” he said.

“We can either delay that decision and create uncertainty and instability over the next 12 months — more speculation, more talk about what might be — or we can do what I believe is always the right thing and ask British Columbians what they think.”

The campaign featured promises for more affordable daycare and improvements to long-term care, as well as different ideas on ways to spur the economy after the pandemic subsides.

The pandemic meant the election was mostly fought online. Gone were rallies, replaced by virtual town halls.

“The hardest part of the campaign for me has been the lack of the ability to connect with groups of people because of COVID,” Wilkinson said in a recent interview.

“We’ve successfully run a few of these car rallies where people stay in their vehicles and honk their horns in approval. But it’s kind of a disconnected campaign for everybody.”

The NDP platform was largely built on the party’s record and promises to continue what it started, including expanding $10-a-day child care and implementing a rent freeze until the end of next year. There was also a promise to provide a $1,000 recovery benefit for families with annual household incomes under $125,000.

The Liberals want to cancel the provincial sales tax for one year at a cost of $7 billion and eliminate the small business income tax to help with the economic recovery from COVID-19.

Furstenau argued for another minority government, telling voters not to give all the power to one party. She campaigned on the influence the Greens have had on policy, particularly on the government’s plan to transition to renewable energy.

With more than 720,000 mail-in ballots requested and about 478,000 returned as of late Thursday night, it’s unclear whether a result will emerge right away.

Officials with Elections BC say they hope to deliver the final results by Nov. 16, but the date isn’t firm as it’s unclear how much time will be needed to count the mail-in ballots.

Vote-by-mail packages are collected centrally and cannot be counted for at least 13 days after the election, allowing time for the ballots to be sent back to voters’ ridings for sorting and screening.

Chief electoral officer Anton Boegman said that 13-day period may be extended depending on how quickly they can handle the vote-by-mail packages.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Damien Kurek
MP Damien Kurek reflects on newly-released federal budget

‘Further, they recycle old promises they have consistently failed to deliver on’

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

FILE - Dan Smyers, left, and Shay Mooney from the band Dan + Shay perform on NBC's Today show in New York on June 28, 2019. The duo will perform at Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

Luke Bryan wins top ACM Award, but female acts own the night

In this undated photo provided by John-Paul Hodnett are a row of teeth on the lower jaw of a 300-million-year-old shark species named this week following a nearly complete skeleton of the species in 2013 in New Mexico. Discoverer Hodnett says it was the short, squat teeth that first alerted him to the possibility that the specimen initially dubbed "Godzilla Shark" could be a species distinct from it's ancient cousins, which have longer, more spear-like teeth. The image was taken using angled light techniques that reveal fossil features underneath sediment. (John-Paul Hodnett via AP)
‘Godzilla’ shark discovered in New Mexico gets formal name

The ancient chompers looked less like the spear-like rows of teeth of related species

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Most Read