UPDATE: 12:15pm. Usually it takes longer than 5 hours for me to be proven correct. LOL
At 11:00am this morning, BC Premier John Horgan announced his request to dissolve the Legislature was granted, placing the province into a fall election campaign where ballots will be cast on October 24th.
That’s the question running wild in BC’s political circles right now, and its answer depends on many factors, of which John Horgan’s character is arguably the biggest.
Is John Horgan a man of his word?
Will he honour his signed commitment to all British Columbians?
These are two very simple questions, yet advance troops are already making the argument that keeping his word and honouring his signed commitment is not necessary.
Why make the argument if the answer to both questions is unequivocally “No” ?
Horgan and Weaver proudly held up copies of the 2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) before the people of British Columbia, looked us in the eye and guaranteed us we would have a stable provincial government until the next scheduled election.
The relevant elements of the 2017 Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) are below.
- Should the Lieutenant Governor invite the Leader of the BC New Democrats to form a new government, this agreement will continue until the next scheduled election.
- The Leader of the New Democrats will not request a dissolution of the Legislature during the term of this agreement, except following the defeat of a motion of confidence.
- The BC Green MLAs will neither move, nor vote non-confidence during the term of this agreement, so long as the principle of good faith and no surprises has been observed.
Andrew Weaver, now the former leader of the BC Green Party, says he is absolutely fine with tearing up the CASA agreement today.
“Were Premier Horgan to call an election I would unequivocally say his reasons to do so would not be a violation of CASA.”
This is a very different Andrew Weaver than the one who signed the agreement three years ago, that much is clear. That Andrew Weaver would have died on this hill, not burrowed under it to find a more comfortable political grave.
These political machinations don’t matter to many British Columbians because they already believe John Horgan is about to prove he is just like every other premier this province has ever elected.
Since B.C. was founded in 1858, we’ve stumbled from one integrity-challenged premier to the next without missing a beat.
Will British Columbia voters punish John Horgan in an early election for breaking his word to them?
Will British Columbia voters even care that John Horgan broke his word to them?
The answer to both questions is likely “No.”
Long before the COVID pandemic hit, British Columbians were apathetic about provincial elections.
Since 1996, British Columbia’s average voter turnout is a pathetic 56%.
It will probably be lower in a pandemic election unless voters are really angry.
Does John Horgan’s Word Matter?
I see no reason to believe voters will punish John Horgan for breaking the very public vow that propelled him into the Premier’s Office in 2017.
Neither does Angus Reid Institute, one of Canada’s larger polling companies.
On September 4, 2020, Angus Reid published data which suggests if John Horgan called a snap election tomorrow, he would ride the electoral wave into a comfortable majority with 48% of decided voters behind him.
Unfortunately for Horgan, one third of those polled said they were not comfortable voting in person during the pandemic. Fully 20% of NDP supporters included in that poll are not comfortable with in-person voting.
These two numbers may put a damper on John Horgan’s opportunistic plans to win a majority government.
But those two numbers are probably not the ones that matter most to Horgan and his advisors.
- John Horgan’s approval rating is high with BC voters, and higher than any other premier in Canada, according to two recent Angus Reid studies. Horgan’s approval rating has nowhere to go but down.
- The BC Liberal Party let by Andrew Wilkinson is, by many accounts, in complete disarray.
But even those two facts may not be the deciding factor either.
I think the one enticement John Horgan will find hardest to resist is the carrot New Brunswick voters dangled enticingly in front of him on September 14th.
The Big Prize
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs’ gambled his government’s future on his snap election call in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
His gamble paid off.
And he won BIG.
Voters rewarded Higgs’ with a comfortable majority government.
This gold ring, the possibility of an NDP majority government, is probably the only thing John Horgan can see right now in the wake of the New Brunswick election results.
Pride goeth before the fall, one famous book reminds us, and this may well be Horgan’s undoing.
New Brunswick’s 66% voter turnout on September 14th is about average for their past five provincial elections – and is a full 11% higher than BC’s average dating back over 25 years.
Does John Horgan’s Integrity Matter?
Given what we witnessed in the 2019 federal election, the answer is an unequivocal “Hell, No!”
Despite Justin Trudeau’s
- endless string of ethics violations,
- an even longer string of broken 2015 election promises,
- wearing of Blackface so many times he cannot recall, and
- accusations of sexual impropriety dogging him from long before he entered politics…
Canadians still re-elected him and his Liberal government, albeit to a minority. The important point is he was re-elected despite his many glaring and highly publicized faults.
John Horgan is no Justin Trudeau, not that it will matter in the next provincial election.
BC’s Fixed Election Date
In an attempt to end unnecessary elections by opportunistic politicians, in 2001 the BC Legislature passed a law fixing the dates of all future elections.
Every four years, beginning on May 17, 2005, British Columbians went to the polls on the second Tuesday in May. Horgan’s government shifted Election Day to the Third Saturday in October, meaning our next provincial election is set for October 23rd, 2021.
Unless Premier Horgan wants to gamble his government, like Blaine Higgs did, in an attempt to grab The Big Prize.
What do you think?
Will BC voters care that Horgan broke his signed promise to British Columbians? If they do, will they punish him at the polls if he calls a snap election this fall?
Or are most voters far more concerned with keeping a roof over their heads and food in their children’s bellies to care about the antics of politicians in Victoria?
Please let me know in the comments section below.