Premier John Horgan waves to supporters after announcing there will be a fall election at a press conference in Langford, B.C., on Monday Sept. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

NDP leader John Horgan made his first campaign stop Tuesday in a tightly contested North Vancouver constituency, promising further expansion of primary health care centres and defending his decision to call an election a year before his minority government mandate expires.

Horgan acknowledged the co-operation between the NDP and B.C. Liberals on emergency spending and restrictions since March, but argued that co-operation slipped away as a crucial budget vote approaches next spring. He said the imminent defeat of two proposed laws introduced this summer, and the retirement of former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, made him decide to call an election for Oct. 24.

“The level of contempt, the level of acrimony between the parties struck me as, at some point will no longer be sufficient to make sure we were all focused on the people of British Columbia,” Horgan said Sept. 22. “The prospect of coming to budget time in February, and having a confidence vote and having to be forced into an election in February and March, was something that I didn’t believe was in the best interests of British Columbians. I felt that now was the time to do this.”

New B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau said she met with Horgan on Friday (Sept. 18), and assured him that she and fellow Green MLA Adam Olsen still support the minority government agreement that contained an explicit promise not to call an early vote before October 2021.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson kicked off his campaign saying Horgan is trying to protect employment for NDP MLAs.

Another factor cited by Horgan was the pending retirement of seven NDP MLAs, including the current finance, forests and Indigenous relations ministers, along with a group of B.C. Liberal veterans. One of those, former Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracy Redies, has already retired, giving the NDP an extra vote in the B.C. legislature for up to six months.

RELATED: Mail-in voting may delay B.C. election result for weeks

RELATED: B.C. Liberals, Greens blast COVID-19 election call

“So it seemed to me that the time to renew our legislature was now,” Horgan said. “Fifteen or more MLAs not focused on their constituents, as much as they’ve all worked very hard over the years, means that there are gaps in the representation of our province. And the time to fix that is now, at the front end of the pandemic, not in the middle of it.”

Horgan promised that a re-elected NDP government would open 10 more urgent and primary care centres in B.C. communities, bringing doctors and health support staff under a single roof to replace the traditional family practice model that has left many people without a regular doctor. The NDP says there are 21 urgent care centres open or under construction, taking pressure off hospital emergency rooms dealing with pandemic cases on top of the regular acute-care demand.

His initial stop in the unscheduled election campaign was with North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma, the first NDP member elected on the North Shore in 25 years.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

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

Just Posted

A case of COVID has been detected within School District 33. (School District 33 photo)
UPDATE: Case of COVID confirmed at a Chilliwack school

Fraser Health has not informed parents but district sent letter to parents Friday

Record-low returns of salmon have been recorded on the Fraser River in recent years. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Time for Indigenous-led salmon strategy on the Lower Fraser, says Alliance

‘Closures of First Nations, commercial and recreational salmon fishing’ have huge impact: LFFA

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region over the last week.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
CHARTS: Weekly COVID-19 case counts continue to rise in Fraser Valley

The number of new COVID-19 cases has risen sharply in Vancouver and the Fraser North region.

The City of Chilliwack says there’s too much spitting going on at the Sardis Sports Complex. (City of Chilliwack photo)
Too much spitting a problem at Chilliwack’s Sardis Sports Complex

The City of Chilliwack is asking the minor hockey community to ease up on expectorating

The Excelsior 4 are set to make their second court appearance in Abbotsford on Monday (Nov. 2). (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
‘Excelsior 4’ making second Abbotsford court appearance on Monday

Animal rights activists expected to plead not guilty to charges, protest for Vancouver scheduled

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

A Mercedes SUV is covered at a gas station in the Clayton area following a deadly shooting there on Sept. 28, 2019. (File photo)
This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra Maestro Otto Tausk. (Photo: vancouversymphony.ca)
50/50 lotto players buck up for Metro Vancouver musicians hit hard by COVID

‘Rapidly growing jackpot’ for VSO’s 50/50 draw as they go online with TheConcertHall.ca

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read