PREMIER John Horgan has officially announced that the election will be held on Saturday, October 24.
Horgan told the media that British Columbians “are worried about their future, they are worried about the impacts of COVID-19 and they want to make sure that their government is secure and stable and focused 24/7 on their needs and their hopes and their aspirations.”
He said: “None of us thought this is how we would spend 2020 when it started nine months ago, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. We are in unprecedented times with challenges we could have never imagined. I want everyone to know that I have struggled mightily with this decision and it did not come easy to me.
“I understand that families are concerned about their loved ones and their livelihood. I know people are uncertain and worried about the future. I understand that full well. But I want to share with you why I believe in my heart that now is the time to have an election. British Columbians have worked hard to get on the right side of the COVID-19 pandemic but we are far from out of the woods. We are not at the end of COVID-19; we are at the beginning. 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 believe is always the right thing and ask British Columbians what they think. I believe the best way forward is to put the politics behind us. Let’s address the differences we may have now so that we can all come together after the 24th of October focused as we should be on the needs of all British Columbians.
“I firmly believe that this is not a 12-month exercise. We have four years ahead of us where we all need to work together, and for 12 months, to wait for the next election seems to me to be time wasted when we could all be rolling up our sleeves and focusing on the things that matter most to British Columbians. I believe the choice in this election is quite clear. The Opposition will focus as they have in the past on the wealthy and the well-connected at the expense of the people that I represent here in Langford.
“I believe to stay on the right track, we need to focus on the things that got us here. The past three and a half years have led to positive changes in British Columbia and I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish working with the Green Party to bring back investments in health care and schools, building transit, housing, child care spaces, eliminating medical services premiums, the largest middle class tax cut in B.C.’s history, as well as the most ambitious climate action plan in the country. And, of course, we are the only province to have enshrined in our Legislature the rights of Indigenous peoples, the first peoples of British Columbia… I believe the future together is very, very bright, but the present is extremely challenging. We have done much; we have much more to do. And last week I outlined some of the plans we have to respond to the COVID pandemic, making sure that we are getting resources to people, to businesses and communities so that they can prepare for the challenges ahead. And over the next 32 days people will have an opportunity to look more at the plans that we are going to be putting forward and the plans of other parties here in British Columbia.
“Like in everything these days, this election will be unlike any other. But I do believe that it can be conducted safely. [Provincial Health Officer] Dr. [Bonnie] Henry and Elections BC have worked very, very hard to make sure that British Columbians will not be putting themselves at risk. Just as we are going to work, just as we are going shopping for groceries, we can vote safely.
“There will be ample new opportunities through advance voting as well as mail-in ballots to ensure that people can participate in our democratic process from the comfort of their own home. But like thousands of work places across B.C., thousands of businesses, our campaigns will fully comply with public health directions. I believe we are going to need to be innovative and creative in how we can engage with people, but I know we can do it.
“For the next few weeks I look forward to engaging with British Columbians to talk about the things that matter most to them and despite the difficulties we face as a result of the pandemic, I take comfort every single day in the ingenuity and the creativity of the people of British Columbia. We have done extraordinary things over the past seven months and we can do even more in the years ahead. I want to thank you for the opportunity to be the Premier of British Columbia. I have enjoyed and cherished every minute of it. And I look forward to carrying on that work after October 24. With your support I believe we can continue to lead the country to make sure we bend the curve on COVID and get back to where we all want to be; where we have harmony, we have prosperity and we have a way forward that includes everyone.”