The province of British Columbia—and the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding—is heading into a snap election at a time when we least need it.
New Democrat Party leader John Horgan’s election call wasn’t much of a surprise, following the flurry of funding announcements preceding his press conference. Whether it was necessary only a year before a scheduled provincial election date remains to be seen.
Horgan was riding the highest popularity numbers of any premier in Canada for the way he has approached the coronavirus pandemic. This despite holding a minority government. When the BC Green Party leadership changed, Sonia Furstenau assured Horgan their tenuous partnership would remain in place—meaning the government would have stability without an election.
That wasn’t good enough for Horgan, who said stability will only come with a majority government. It was a bold move to make, and possibly the wrong one.
Forcing a snap election was clearly something his federal counterpart decided wasn’t worth it—at least this year. Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh reached an agreement with the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that ensured the Liberals will retain power as Canada continues dealing with the pandemic.
For the Mid Island-Pacific Rim riding, this election will usher in a new era. Scott Fraser, who has held the NDP MLA seat for more than a decade, announced earlier this month he will not seek re-election. The announcement paves the way for new candidates to step up, although the way the riding is steeped in NDP orange, it will be tough for anyone outside the party.
When nominations close on Oct. 2 the NDP and BC Liberal parties will likely have candidates with municipal experience: Tofino mayor Josie Osborne has declared her intent to run as the NDP candidate, and Port Alberni city councillor Helen Poon has stepped forward for the Liberals.
Longtime social advocate Graham Hughes of Port Alberni has said he will run as an independent if he garners the required number of signatures. He will be the first independent candidate to run for the MLA’s seat in this riding in many years.
It took Fraser three elections before he was able to sit as a member of government in British Columbia. Having a sitting MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim may be shortlived.
—Alberni Valley News