North Van MLAs react to election call

North Shore voters will be going to the polls Oct. 24 following an early election call by B.C. Premier John Horgan Monday.

During the announcement, Horgan cited increasing challenges in getting legislation passed as a reason for a snap election.

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Horgan’s NDP is currently doing well in the polls and by calling an election, the party hopes to turn its razor-thin minority government into a majority.

North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma said she agreed with the rationale for an early election.

“Our government simply does not have the runway remaining to lead this province all the way out of the pandemic in a manner that the British Columbians deserve,” she said. “We would have lost 12 months to partisan bickering and electioneering, which was already happening regardless of an early election call.”

North Vancouver-Seymour Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite described the fall election as both unwanted and irresponsible during the pandemic.

“I think it’s totally unnecessary,” said Thornthwaite, speaking after Horgan’s announcement. “It’s totally a power grab for John Horgan and the NDP.”

Thornthwaite said the constituents she’s talked to have been adamant they’re not keen on an election.

People in North Vancouver are already worried enough about the health of their families, job losses and the survival of their businesses, said Thornthwaite.

In an interview, Ma said there is no good time for an election during a pandemic, but it was something British Columbians were going to have to learn to deal with, even in the best-case scenario.

“We do need to learn to carry on in the things that are important for our society to function and our democratic processes are absolutely one of those critical pieces,” she said. “Whether or not the election was called today… or was allowed to carry out during the fixed election date, it still would have been a COVID election.”

Ma said she is confident a plan put forward by Elections BC and approved by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry can be done safely.

At the time of the election call, three of the four North Shore incumbent MLAs were planning to run again, including West Vancouver-Sea to Sky Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy. West Vancouver-Capilano Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan is retiring and the party selected Karin Kirkpatrick to run for the seat, which is typically one of the safest Liberal ridings in B.C. No other new candidates on the North Shore have yet been announced.

What a pandemic-era campaign looks like is still being figured out, Ma said.

The NDP has told candidates Monday they are prohibited from door knocking during the campaign, although they are allowed to leave campaign literature at people’s doorsteps.

Thornthwaite said she’s done some preliminary door-knocking in the riding that involved wearing a mask and stepping back six to eight feet when people answered their door before having a conversation.

“Everybody’s pretty adept at Zoom these days but I worry about seniors and people who maybe don’t have the wherewithal with technology,” she said. “How are they going to get their questions answered by candidates?”

Thornthwaite said regardless of how the campaign unfolds, she’s prepared to run on her record of advocating for projects like the North Vancouver highway interchange project and mental health supports for youth like the Hope Centre and Foundry.

Ma said she has no problem running on her own record.

“People will be the judge as to whether or not they want me or our government to serve again,” she said.

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