B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says Premier John Horgan’s Oct. 24 election call is a cynical and self-serving ploy to hold onto power.
“The only reason for this election is to secure the jobs for the NDP,” Wilkinson said. “It’s unnecessary.
“We have to question if this is the right time for an election. Clearly it is not.”
Horgan said it was time for a mandate from the public in uncertain times.
Wilkinson though, said the NDP is creating chaos with an election as COVID-19 numbers are rising. He said everyone is aware there is a pandemic, an environmental crisis, concerns around schools and housing problems.
“This is a time for stability not politics,” he said. “This is not the time for politics of division.”
Wilkinson was particularly critical of Horgan’s attitude toward the the Confidence and Supply Agreement signed between the NDP and B.C.’s Greens to maintain the NDP in power, Horgan in the premier’s office.That agreement said no election would be called by the NDP until May 31, 2021, or the next scheduled election under the B.C. Constitution Act.
“[Horgan’s] torn that all to shreds for his own personal benefit,” Wilkinson said. “What happened to the deal he so solemnly signed.”
Wilkinson said the NDFP and Greens have betrayed British Columbians with the end of the CASA deal.
“What kind of person does that in the middle of a pandemic?” Wilkinson asked.
Premier John Horgan, however, said in his election call that the pandemic has created extraordinary circumstances as well as created too much “partisan wrangling” holding up legislation. Those, he said, necessitates a mandate from the public on who should lead in what he called the “front-end” of the pandemic he expects to last for some time.
The election call comes in the wake of spring NDP ministerial orders cancelling elections due to the pandemic. Votes in Victoria, Smithers, Greenwood and Rossland had been cancelled through Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing orders. However, some of those orders changed in August with mail-in ballots being specifically mentioned in new orders. In at least one case, all voting could be done by mail-in ballot.
Wilkinson said with COVID-19 cases rising, B.C. is heading in the wrong direction.
Wilkinson said the campaign promises to be different from anything British Columbians have experienced. He said much of it would be through social and mainstream media.
Wilkinson was re-elected MLA for the Vancouver-Quilchena riding in 2017.
Prior to assuming the leadership mantle in 2018, he served as attorney general and minister of justice, minister of technology and innovation and citizens’ services.
Wilkinson has also served as deputy minister in the Ministry of Economic Development with responsibility for economic issues, trade and tourism.
A second deputy minister position was two years with intergovernmental relations in the premier's Office.
The Australian-born Wilkinson holds degrees from the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University, and Oxford University, where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.
He has practiced as a lawyer in Vancouver. Prior to his being called to the B.C. bar, Wilkinson practiced as a doctor in Campbell River, Lillooet and Dease Lake.
He has also served as president of the BC Civil Liberties Association, president of the BC Mountaineering Club and president of the BC Liberal Party.
His tenure as leader has not been without controversy. His “tough marriage” comments following Premier John Horgan’s comment seemingly referred to Premier John Horgan's promise to give working people fleeing violence at home up to five days of paid leave received much criticism.
He was called out of touch when he commented that renting can be “kind of a wacky time of life, but it can be really enjoyable.” He called renting“a fact of life that’s a rite of passage” saying his time as a renter was “challenging at times but it was fun.”