A close observer of BC politics recently asked if I expected John Horgan to call an election before the scheduled date 13 months from now.
My quick response was yes, Horgan will soon ask for a new mandate. The reasons:
- Polls now show strong approval for John Horgan’s leadership but that can only go down.
- People in general are satisfied with the provincial response to coronavirus but voters will grow tired of restrictions and take a negative view of the government imposing them.
- Effects of economic decay will become more apparent as the virus continues or grows worse, which it is likely to do this autumn.
- The disaster that is Site C is not yet fully revealed. Details are being hidden for a purpose. Wait until 2021 for an election and it might well be clear the project is a blunder of unprecedented proportions. This is an NDP project now, not one by Liberals.
- LNG projects are not viable without further public subsidies. (Cost-cutting Petronas is looking at withdrawing from LNG Canada.) NDP would rather provide more incentives than see projects die. Doing so would reflect badly on the government’s already shaky environmental credentials. Better to hold a vote first.
- Sonia Furstenau is a progressive environmentalist. This means that NDP cannot rely on Greens for support of their natural resource and environmental policies.
- There’s elitist Andrew Wacky Wilkinson. I’m sure Horgan would rather campaign against him than just about anyone.
- NDP are not now suffering financial disadvantages they’ve faced in previous elections. The party’s financial state is far better than it was for the last few votes.
BC Liberals ruled for 16 years as a right wing coalition shaped by corporate interests. Today’s BC NDP hopes to rule as long as a centrist coalition heavily influenced by major trade unions.
WAC Bennett, British Columbia’s most successful politician, called elections seven times, 1953 to 1972. The average interval between them was 35 months. A vote in late October 2020 would be 42 months after the last election.
Political pundit Martyn Brown wrote that Premier Horgan is “an old-school partisan, whose actions have sometimes put his party’s interests above the public interest.”
That’s not necessarily a criticism. Idealists tend to sit on the sidelines talking about what politicians should do. Successful partisans sit with the levers of power in hand.
I believe that John Horgan sees the time is right to secure a grip on those levers for another four years.