Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson bottle feeds a calf during a campaign stop at Nicomekl Farms in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. A provincial election will be held in British Columbia on Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson bottle feeds a calf during a campaign stop at Nicomekl Farms in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. A provincial election will be held in British Columbia on Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Pandemic election prompts voter suppression claims by B.C. Liberals

‘These emergencies require in us a maturity that has been lacking in politics for so long’

The British Columbia Liberals are accusing the NDP of taking advantage of the pandemic to suppress votes in the dying days of the election, while the Green leader is urging residents not to vote out of fear.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson defended a news release put out by his party that says it has serious concerns about the motive behind NDP Leader John Horgan’s election call “that is suppressing voter turnout and putting those that do vote at risk.”

Wilkinson said Tuesday that Horgan’s selfishness to call the election during the pandemic shouldn’t override the democratic right to get out to vote.

When asked if he would question the final results, Wilkinson said “absolutely not,” adding that Elections BC has been acting with the highest degree of professionalism to protect voters’ rights.

“I think the problem is John Horgan’s selfish ambition in calling this election while we’re going in the second wave of the pandemic. That’s just irresponsible. It didn’t need to happen and it should not have happened,” Wilkinson said.

Horgan responded by saying he doesn’t know what Wilkinson is talking about when it comes to voter suppression.

“I don’t know what planet Mr. Wilkinson’s living on,” Horgan said while campaigning in North Vancouver. “Almost 500,000 people have already participated in advance voting,” he said, adding more than 700,000 mail-in ballots have been requested.

“There’s a lot of interest in this election campaign. There’s no effort whatsoever to suppress. Quite the contrary. We want to ensure that as many people participate as possible.”

Horgan met with local nurses while in North Vancouver after campaigning in Coquitlam, where he pushed his health-care plans for spending $2.3 billion for construction of hospitals and the hiring of 7,000 workers.

The NDP leader said that when his party took office in 2017, nine of 10 care homes did not have enough staff to meet the minimum hours for care, which would change under his leadership.

On a campaign stop at a dairy farm in Surrey, B.C., Wilkinson said his status as a medical doctor would be helpful in the premier’s office in talking to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry about the best way to take action on COVID-19 going forward.

“When we see a wide range of different approaches toward the pandemic around the world, I like to think that somebody with an MD like me can look into that and say, ‘What’s the best for B.C.,’ and work with Dr. Henry to see what’s the best for B.C.”

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said Henry’s statement Monday that B.C. was in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was scary to hear, especially as schools and businesses remain open and fall weather means it’s harder to stay outside.

Furstenau released her party’s platform on pandemic economic recovery in West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, a riding she said the Greens could win, according to the party’s numbers.

When asked about the call by some to unite the progressive vote behind the NDP and away from the Greens, Furstenau said the best thing progressives could do now is ensure there are Green members in the legislature.

She said she’s weary of political parties telling the electorate to vote for them out of fear when they should vote out of inspiration or hope.

The pandemic, the overdose crisis and a climate emergency give British Columbians enough to be afraid of, she said.

“These emergencies require in us a maturity that has been lacking in politics for so long. That maturity means we put aside partisanship on the other side of elections and we sit down and we do the work and we move the solutions out and we get to the job we’re elected to do.”

The Green plan to help small businesses through the pandemic includes a rent subsidy program and urgent support for small tourism operators.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

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

Just Posted

The Port Alberni Train Station is located outside the entrance to Harbour Quay, on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Port Alberni gets funding to restore heritage train station

Historic train station needs seismic upgrades

Raw logs are loaded onto a logging ship from a log sort down the Alberni Inlet in March 2019. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News
Port Alberni light on industrial land

Report finds few suitable locations for new industry

Cowichan Valley writer Jennifer Manuel will headlining YakFest on March 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cowichan Valley writer to headline next YakFest on March 1

YakFest is a B.C.-based monthly women’s event held online via Zoom

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College plans tourism networking event

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Vancouver Island’s tourism industry

Members of Alberni Valley Rescue Squad were at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 to practice helicopter hover exit training with Ascent Helicopters out of Parksville. When executing a search in difficult terrain, it isn’t always possible to land a helicopter, so volunteer searchers must be certified in hover exits. (BILL MCLEOD/ Special to the AV News)
Alberni Valley Rescue Society receives much-needed $40K gaming grant

Bamfield volunteer fire department also funded

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Police in Nanaimo found multiple graffiti tags they allege were made by three men arrested for mischief in Maffeo Sutton Park on Feb. 15. (Photo submitted)
Graffiti taggers caught in Nanaimo with paint on their hands

Three suspects arrested at Maffeo Sutton Park last week

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
‘Stay local’: Dr. Henry shoots down spring break travel for British Columbians

B.C. is reportedly working with other provincial governments to determine March break policies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“Our biggest challenge has been the amount of vaccine,” said FNHA acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. (First Nations Health Authority Facebook photo)
All First Nations on reserve to be vaccinated by end of March: First Nations Health Authority

Vaccinations continuing for B.C. First Nations amid shortages

(Delta Police Department photo)
B.C. youth calls 911 after accruing $7K in online gaming charges

‘Police spoke with the student about appropriate times to call 911’

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Most Read