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

Hugh Dobbie’s South Surrey-based tech business Yare Media was recently acquired by California’s Visaic Inc. (SFU photo)
South Surrey tech company acquired by California business

Hugh Dobbie founded Yare Media in 2016, and ‘will remain involved’

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Newton Elementary School in Surrey, according to an information bulletin Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. (Image: Google Street View)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at second Surrey elementary school

Newton Elementary closed for two weeks, set to reopen Dec. 14

Joy Johnson, seen here during an installation ceremony on Oct. 22, is Simon Fraser University’s 10th president and vice-chancellor. (Submitted photo)
SFU’s Surrey campus tackling COVID-19-related research

‘We can learn now,’ SFU president Joy Johnson said, ‘so should something like this happen again we’ll be prepared. We have to learn from this current pandemic’

Mayor Darryl Walker gives a welcoming hug to Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell at the inaugural meeting of the current White Rock council in 2018. (Alex Browne photo)
White Rock council under fire for inaugural prayer

BC Humanist Association charges city violated Supreme Court ruling two years ago

Chief Robert Gladstone of Shxwha:y Village at a federal flood funding announcement April 24, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress file)
Consortium of Indigenous chiefs seeking a way to participate in cannabis economy

All Nations Chiefs from the Shxwha:y, Cheam, Soowahlie and Sq’ewlets holding online forum Dec. 2

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

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

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Chilliwack school board trustee Barry Neufeld is taking heat over using a ableist slur to refer to three Black Press employees. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)
BC School Trustees Association president keeps heat on Chilliwack Trustee Barry Neufeld

In a news release, Stephanie Higginson called on voters to take careful note of Neufeld’s behaviour

Most Read