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Editorial - Voters think little of political opportunism

John Horgan is playing a very cynical game with his own government’s health message
File photo.

British Columbians will go to the polls on Oct. 24, as decided by NDP leader John Horgan.

The legitimacy of six months of public health edicts are now in question because of a man that has proven himself a political opportunist that wants to secure his place as premier by cashing in on some rosy poll numbers.

That’s six months of rules, regulations, edicts, decrees and laws designed to keep the public safe and secure from an invisible enemy that apparently the government of this province believes has been beat.

With his doorstep announcement on Monday, Horgan’s message was that you aren’t allowed to gather in groups larger than 50 people, restaurants aren’t allowed to cater to their floor capacity, schools aren’t allowed to function normally – but British Columbians are allowed to vote for John Horgan.

With this election, Horgan has proven that he would sacrifice goodwill and bi-partisanship for the sake of another term in the big chair.

The optics are devastatingly bad. All the hard work: the economic pain, the unemployment, the travel restrictions, the mental health catastrophe – it was for an election to be safe, apparently, not for life to go back to normal.

Why should anyone believe the NDP leader or the health authorities if the government itself has decided that an election that isn’t scheduled for over a year in the future is worth holding today?

Today, when British Columbia is seeing a sustained rise in active cases of coronavirus infections.

Today, when Canada has returned to numbers of daily increases of positive tests last seen in May.

How can Horgan expect British Columbians to take the pandemic seriously, when the message sent by calling a snap election is that he doesn’t?

The government of British Columbia has taken an indefensible position, one that, for victory, depends on a level of trust and optimism that simply isn’t available among voters in 2020.

Horgan currently ranks as the most popular premier in all of Canada. Whether those poll numbers translate into a majority in Victoria, Horgan will have permanently damaged the image of his government’s attitude and approach towards tackling the pandemic that – if global health authorities are to be believed – will be with us for many years yet.

With that point, perhaps Horgan has a case. It is true that in 12 months when the election is meant to have been held, there may still be an ongoing pandemic, so holding an election now may well be the best option. For John Horgan.

He, and all his colleagues in the NDP will have their work cut out for them in the next few weeks as they try to move the discussion beyond the optics and on to the economic rationale.

So we might as well get on with it, the horse has well and truly bolted.

Horgan is betting it all that voters will reward his cynicism, but watching elections around the world in the last few years has proven that voters think dimly of brute opportunism.