Black Press file photo

Horgan’s election call ‘nakedly opportunistic,’ political scientist says

Premier says campaign will ‘fully comply’ with public health directions

Premier John Horgan has rolled the dice in what is being called a “nakedly opportunistic move” as he hopes to transition his NDP government from a precarious minority to a “stable” majority by calling a provincial election one year early, while his party is riding high in opinion polls.

Dr. Stewart Prest, a professor of political science at SFU, says it’s “clearly a bit of a political gamble by the Horgan government.

“Voters are relatively satisfied, I think it’s fair to say, by and large, with the NDP response to the pandemic and this is an attempt by Horgan and the NDP to lock in that approval for the job that has been done,” Prest told the Now-Leader, immediately after the premier revealed B.C. voters will be going to the polls in five weeks.

“It’s a question of whether voters are going to focus more on the job the NDP has done,” Prest said, “or are they going to be frustrated by the call itself?”


Dr. Stewart Prest, SFU professor of political science. (Submitted photo)

“It’s a pretty nakedly opportunistic move on the part of the NDP,” Prest said. “Is that going to cost them? Is this going to give rise to voter frustration, does it metastasize into something like voter rage, a broad call for a change of government? I’m not comfortable predicting it going one way or another at this time, but I think that’s one of the key questions.”

BC Liberal Marvin Hunt, who will seek another term as MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale, says he hopes voters will punish the NDP at the polls for Horgan’s decision Monday to call an early election while COVID-19 cases are on the increase.

“My hope is the electorate will punish the NDP for doing this, that they’ll recognize this is absolutely about political ambition, this is nothing about the good for British Columbia,” Hunt said.

“We’re not ready simply because it was supposed to be on a set date. I thought it was interesting that one of the first pieces of legislation that Horgan introduced was to move the election from May to October next year.”

READ ALSO: Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

READ ALSO OUR VIEW: Snap election is last thing we need right now

Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade, expressed in a tweet Monday a widely-held reaction: “Just what we need to add to our pandemic stress.”

“Really, the general consensus is why now, why are we adding to pandemic stress for our business community, for our work force, for our community?” she told the Now-Leader on Tuesday.

Horgan said Monday that British Columbians want a government that’s “secure and stable, and focused 24/7 on their needs, their hopes and their aspirations.”

He told reporters he “struggled mightily” with his decision to call a provincial election for Saturday, Oct. 24, but believes “in his heart” that now is the right time for one.

The election didn’t have to be held until Oct. 16, 2021. But to wait until then, Horgan said, “seems to me to be time wasted.”

The NDP has been riding high in opinion polls compared to its rival Liberals.

“We are not at the end of COVID-19, we are at the beginning,” Horgan said Monday. “This pandemic will be with us for a year or more, and that’s why I believe we need to have an election now. 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 always believe is the right thing, and that is ask British Columbians what they think. I believe the best way forward is to put politics behind us.”


Premier John Horgan in Surrey, in March. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Horgan insisted the election can be held safely.

“Our campaign will fully comply with public health directions,” he said.

Meantime, Hunt noted that for the past 20 years B.C. had fixed election dates, and it worked well.

“There were opportunities for other premiers, when the polls were good,” he said. But, Hunt noted, those past premiers stuck to fixed election dates unless something forced an earlier date. “But nothing is forcing that – certainly the legislature is not forcing that; this is a choice of the premier and I think it is very unnecessary and very regrettable.

“I think what it shows, is it shows how political the NDP really are, that everything is a political issue and they are going to use everything to their advantage.”

Hunt noted that in March $5 billion was authorized in taxpayers’ money to deal with the COVID-19 virus.

“We have worked together on this since March, constantly working together, which is something that he’s always said, ‘Let’s work together, let’s work together on this.’ How many times in Question Period was that one of his lines?”

Hunt charged Horgan will take $1.5 billion of that money to use “for election purposes.”

The Liberal MLA is seeking re-election in Surrey-Cloverdale, as is Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux in Surrey South, while Trevor Halford is running for the Liberals in Surrey-White Rock, Paul Boparai in Surrey-Newton, Gulzar Cheema in Surrey-Panorama, Dave Hans in Surrey-Guildford, Garry Thind in Surrey-Fleetwood, Shaukat Khan in Surrey-Whalley and Dilraj Atwal in Surrey-Green Timbers.

As for the NDP, former Surrey councillor Mike Starchuck will be squaring off against Hunt in Surrey-Cloverdale, while Harry Bains (Surrey-Newton), Jagrup Brar (Surrey-Fleetwood), Rachna Singh (Surrey-Green Timbers), Garry Begg (Surrey-Guildford), Jinny Sims (Surrey-Panorama), and Bruce Ralston (Surrey-Whalley), have all been acclaimed and are seeking re-election. At press time the NDP had not yet revealed candidates for Surrey South or Surrey-White Rock.

The local NDP campaign engine was already revving on Sunday, with press releases from Ralston that Old Yale Road elementary students will get $125,000 in provincial funding for a new accessible playground and Brar promising the same for students of Maple Green elementary school.

Representatives of the BC Green Party or BC Conservative Party could not be reached. Candidate nominations close 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2.

Does Hunt think the election can be done safely, like Horgan says?

“We’re just going to have to do it, we’re going to have to make it safe,” Hunt said. “As a result, a lot of the activities of a normal election won’t happen. We won’t be having rallies, we won’t be having large meetings. It’s going to severely limit what we can do even do at the doors with door-knocking, canvassing.”

Hunt said door-knocking is important to politicians seeking feedback from voters on what they want and expect from their government.


Surrey-Cloverdale Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt. (File photo)

“We thought it was going to be a year from now – that we’d have time to prepare – but such is life. It gets thrown at us, and so we’re going to do our best and so we hope that the electorate will recognize that this is just the raw ambition of the NDP, and let them know that they don’t appreciate it.”

During his press conference Monday, one reporter asked Horgan who is “managing” the pandemic between now and Oct. 24.

“The tradition is to have a ‘stay behind minister’” to work with the public service, he said. “That minister will be the deputy premier and finance minister, Carole James.”

Another asked him if he had any moral or ethical concerns about calling an election, which he is “sure to win, it looks like at this point, or are likely to win,” one year early, in the middle of a pandemic.

“I do know that we need stability,” he replied. Yet another reporter asked him if he lied to British Columbians when he signed a deal saying he would not call an early election.

“The issues of 2017 are not the issues of 2020,” Horgan replied. “We did not contemplate the global pandemic, we did not contemplate the upheaval in our economic fabric, we did not contemplate the challenges of public and I believe that what we did in the past was one thing, what we need to do in the future is quite another matter, and the best way forward is to ask the people of British Columbia where they want to go and who they want to lead them.”

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

BC politicsBC Votes 2020Surrey

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

Just Posted

Ranil Prasad saw this poster near Surrey Central SkyTrain station on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. He said it expressed “some specific reference to white replacement theory.” (Photo: Ranil Prasad/@run_neil/Twitter)
Surrey man urges public to watch out for ‘white replacement theory’ posters

Ranil Prasad said he saw the messaging at a Surrey SkyTrain station

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Construction of Douglas College's Surrey Campus in 1970. (Photo: Douglas College Archives)
PHOTOS: Douglas College’s Surrey roots at a B.C.-first campus in 1970

The official date of the Douglas/Kwantlen split was April 1, 1981

B.C.’s parliament building, Victoria. (Photo: Tom Fletcher)
ZYTARUK: Votes come at a premium price. Time to pay the tab

Promises are rained upon the voting public much like confetti being blasted from the maw of a cannon, or particles of ash spewn from an erupting volcano

Loretta Hibbs (right), founder and president of Surrey-based City Dream Centre, with Kelly Voros (foreground), the organization's executive administrator. (submitted photo)
‘Pumpkin patch’ brought to Surrey inner-city schools where COVID cancelled field trips

Work done by volunteers with Surrey-based City Dream Centre

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers and staff by parents must stop, Chilliwack soccer club says

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Most Read