British Columbians will be heading to the election polls on Oct. 24.
Premier John Horgan announced the election following a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin in Victoria on Monday morning.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything — the people of British Columbia deserve a say in the direction of our recovery and the future of our province,” said Horgan, in a press release announcing the election.
Prior to the election call, the NDP had 41 seats, the BC Liberals had 43 seats and the BC Green Party had three seats in the Legislature. However, the NDP had been governing as a minority government with support from the BC Green Party through a Confidence and Supply Agreement, which was signed in the aftermath of the 2017 provincial election.
Kootenay East has been represented by Tom Shypitka for the BC Liberals for the last three years, who won the previous election over then-NDP candidate Randal Macnair.
Shypitka said he saw the signs of a fall election, adding that he was ‘disappointed’ to see an election in the middle of unprecedented economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.
“To see this election come right now during this pandemic is a little disturbing, in my opinion,” Shypitka said.
Shypitka touted the non-partisan cooperation between the NDP, Liberals and Green parties in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, but lamented the election as political opportunism.
“We all worked together to do what was best for B.C,” Shypitka said. “Now, Premier Horgan is taking that goodwill and using it to essentially feather his own nest.”
Shypitka said he expects economic issues to dominate the campaign, given the pandemic’s impact on businesses across all types of industries.
“There’s a lot of problems with why this government’s’s holding this election right now, but the key issue is the economy, getting us back in gear and growing out of the deficit we’re going to be seeing coming forward,” Shypitka said.
In the press release announcing the election, Horgan leaned on the NDP government funding priorities in health care, education, transit and child care.
“We invested in healthcare and schools, said Horgan. “We build transit, housing and childcare centres. We eliminated the MSP—the largest middle-class tax cut in BC history—and during this pandemic, we kept people safe while staying focused on what matters.”
Horgan also admitted that the election campaign will look different than in years past due to COVID-19, but noted opportunities to vote in advance or by mail.
The Cranbrook Townsman has reached out to the BC NDP Caucus to inquire about the state of NDP nominations for a Kootenay East candidate.
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