Premier John Horgan’s decision to call a snap election in the midst of a pandemic is self-serving, says Surrey South BC Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux.
Horgan officially terminated his minority government agreement with the B.C. Green Party Monday morning and called an election for Saturday, Oct. 24.
At a news conference in his home community of Langford Monday (Sept. 21), Horgan said he has “struggled mightily” with the decision to call an early vote, but the long duration of the pandemic requires stability.
That stability is eroded three and a half years into his term with former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sitting as an independent and preparing to retire, he said.
“I believe the best way forward is to put the politics behind us,” Horgan said.
However, Cadieux said Horgan is putting his own interests ahead of British Columbians’.
“This is not what anybody needs right now,” Cadieux said Monday, after confirming she will seek re-election.
Cadieux said British Columbians are to thank for B.C.’s success in dealing with some aspects of COVID-19. Any B.C. government, she said, would follow the advice of health officials.
However, Cadieux took issue with how the NDP government is handling the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
“This government has had seven months to put in place an economic plan for recovery – a plan that helps people keep their jobs and their businesses (and) helps us look to rebuild the economy, so we can pay for all the things that we’ve had to do over the last number of months and will have to pay for the continuing months,” Cadieux said.
“Our party has proven we can build an economy, we’ve done it three times and we can do it again.”
Currently, Horgan is leading a minority government under a “confidence and supply agreement” signed in 2017 with the B.C. Green Party. Newly elected Green leader Sonia Furstenau said she met with Horgan on Friday to assure him that the two remaining B.C. Green MLAs would continue to support the government.
During a news conference Monday, Furstenau called the decision for an election “irresponsible and unnecessary.”
“He has to realize that he is out of touch with reality for most British Columbians right now,” she said.
In recent weeks, seven of Horgan’s cabinet ministers announced they will not seek re-election. Cadieux recalled how the media treated former BC Liberal leader Christy Clark after four of her ministers said they would not run in the 2013 election.
“The media suggested that was an enormous hole for her to sew. So John Horgan has, by that stretch, a challenge on his hands,” Cadieux said.
Cadieux was elected to the Surrey-Panorama riding in 2009 and Surrey-Cloverdale riding in 2013.
In the 2017 election, she won with 50 per cent of the votes (13,509) to NDP Jonathan Silveira, who tallied 32 per cent (8,718). BC Green Party Pascal Tremblay collected 3,141 votes.
Last week, and in anticipation of a byelection, former White Rock councillor Megan Knight announced she would seek the BC Liberal nomination for the recently vacated Surrey-White Rock seat.
“I am excited to finally share that I am seeking the BC Liberal nomination in Surrey-White Rock, for what we all know will soon be an election,” Knight said in a news release.
However, the party instead selected Trevor Halford as its candidate for the riding.
Halford, who phoned PAN to confirm his candidacy, had an unsuccessful bid for City of Surrey council in the last municipal election and works as a public affairs director with Trans Canada Corporation.
The Surrey-White Rock riding was formerly held by BC Liberal Tracy Redies until she announced her resignation effective Aug. 31 to become CEO of Science World.
Neither the NDP nor the Green Party had announced candidates for the Surrey-White Rock or Surrey South ridings by PAN’s press deadline.
Election Day in B.C. is set for Saturday, Oct. 24. Elections BC has confirmed advanced voting will take place from Friday, Oct. 16 to Wednesday, Oct. 21.
British Columbians also have the option to vote by mail-in ballot, which can be obtained through their website at elections.bc.ca
– files from Ashley Wadhwani and Tom Fletcher