Read the other half of this debate here.
B.C. premier John Horgan has called for an election on Oct. 24, one year earlier than we all expected, and there is a lot of controversy about the timing.
B.C. is reporting new highs of COVID-19 cases every few days, and prime minister Justin Trudeau announced that we are in the second wave of the pandemic, with no “curve bending” in sight.
An election was not on my to-do list this year. However, I believe us voters still benefit from it, and now is a better time to vote than next year.
As it stands, COVID-19 cases are rising higher than we have seen this year. We can hardly predict the next month, let alone an entire year. A lot of us seem to forget that we will likely be in this pandemic next year too. If we can’t predict what the year ahead of us could look like, who’s to say an election then will be safe? Even if a vaccine that works is developed in the spring, it will take months before it is distributed widely enough to be effective.
Having our election now guarantees us our right to vote, rather than putting off an election for unknown amounts of time while the pandemic drags on. Although delaying the election is an option, if the provincial government decided to wait until after the pandemic is over, we would have no idea how long it could take.
This also allows a potential new government to adjust in office to address the pandemic and other concerns of British Columbians. If the NDP gains a majority, Horgan will give his party the platform to pitch their plans and be inclined to follow them. Not to mention, any ideas each party suggests can still be proposed and implemented by the elected government.
This is an opportunity for each party to campaign for issues that the pandemic has exacerbated, such as the opioid crisis, housing affordability, long-term care homes’ conditions and the climate emergency, alongside their COVID-19 healthcare plans.
Now is a chance for each party to appeal to voters with plans to help the restaurant industry and small businesses struggling in the pandemic, voters facing high unemployment rates, and parents concerned about their children in school.
Also, Horgan is not the only one to have called for a snap election during the pandemic. In September, New Brunswick had their snap election and re-elected the Progressive Conservatives with a majority government.
Saskatchewan is going ahead with its provincial election as planned, but with COVID precautions in place.
In B.C., voting will be similar to pre-COVID times, only with lots of hand sanitizer available, most people wearing a mask, and officials cleaning down each booth between voters to reduce cross-contamination. Social distancing will also be part of the setup.
Voters also had until Sept. 26 to register for mail-in voting. If you missed it, there will still be advanced voting at some locations from Oct. 15 to 21. The final day to vote is Oct 24.
We cannot compare and contrast our situation too much with our southern neighbours because our government, federal and provincial, has been listening to the advice of Canada’s top doctors and encouraging masks and social distancing.
Even if the election timing is driven by a political agenda to gain more seats, Horgan just handed us the power to choose what this pandemic could look like within our province in the coming years.
As I’ve said before, we choose our leaders, and we hold them accountable. Your vote is your voice. Let it be heard.