If BC NDP can win a stable majority government to manage COVID-19,what about the Liberals in Ottawa?

Oct 25th, 2020 | By | Category: In Brief
At 9:12 PM PT Steve Faguy at the Montreal Gazette tweeted “That was quick.” By 10:10 PM PT the NDP was up to 54 seats. A bare majority in the Legislative Assembly is 44!

UPDATED OCT 26. FROM THE COUNTERWEIGHTS EDITORS. TORONTO, OCT 25, 12:15 AM ET ; OCT 24, 9:15 PM PT : Surprise, surprise (not, of course). Despite the large volume of mail-in votes that will only be counted “a couple of weeks later,” both CBC and CTV have now projected an NDP majority government in today’s very interesting snap provincial election on Canada’s Pacific Coast.

FURTHER NOTES FROM THE BOARDROOM, OCT 25, 2:00 AM ET : Both CBC and CTV have been assigning Premier Horgan’s NDP 55 seats. (With, on the CBC numbers eg, just under 45% of the popular vote. The Liberals have 29 seats with just under 36% of the vote, and the Greens only 3 seats with 15%.)

“Night Vision” by prize-winning Toronto artist Michael Seward, October 2020.

The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia has 87 seats, making 44 a bare majority. (So at as many as 55 or even somewhat fewer seats, the NDP … etc.)

As one sign of why both TV networks seem confident about the NDP majority, P.J. Fournier of 338Canada (and often enough in Maclean’s magazine) has tweeted about a recent Mainstreet Research poll. It shows voters who mailed in their votes as considerably more likely to vote NDP than those who did not. As M. Fournier says : “When the votes by mail get counted in two weeks, the NDP could run up the score.”

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT BC? (In the eyes of ill-informed but nonetheless interested observers on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario) : Whatever else, this is a big win for Premier John Horgan – the “only consecutive two-term premier in his party’s history.” It’s a big win for Premier Horgan’s BC New Democrats as well. (Even if their most aggressively progressive factions, some TV commentators suggested, are doomed to disappointment.)

Two other quick thoughts strike us. First, with this genuinely impressive big victory BC and its provincial New Democratic Party has altogether superseded Saskatchewan as the western heartland of the most left-wing brand of left-wing politics in Canada – founded, as it were, by the legendary Regina Manifesto of 1933. More practically, John Horgan seems to have found an NDP governing strategy that’s working, and probably deserves still further study elsewhere. (Especially if he can keep his act up in BC.)

Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, viewed from the Chateau Victoria at sunset, October 27, 2017. Photo by RichmondPest.

Second, the BC Liberals were clearly the (failing) conservative champions in this election. And what might be called the ongoing Australianization of the BC political system (where Liberals become the main right-wing party) seems to have taken some further steps ahead.

This may be inevitable – unless someone can invent a real BC Conservative party all too soon. But it can also be confusing in those parts of the country (and federally) where the Liberals remain a progressive party – even if sometimes not quite as progressive as those NDP factions said to be doomed to disappointment under Premier Horgan in BC.

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT CANADA? Shortly after midnight back east, when the magnitude of the NDP victory started to become all too clear, P.J. Fournier of 338Canada also tweeted the general version of the Canada-wide lesson : “One thing I hope we will put to rest: The notion that voters would ‘punish’ a premier/PM for calling a snap election … Yes, David Peterson screwed up in the 1990 Ontario election, but it looks like the exception more than the rule … When the polls look good, they will go for it.”

Meanwhile back east, from Michael Seward’s Toronto scene photos, October 2020. The artist’s late parents, Toronto residents originally from Newfoundland and Alberta, spent their golden years in Victoria, BC!

More particularly, those federal Liberals who believe the current Justin Trudeau minority government should welcome any snap election any reckless opposition majority might force upon it have had their hand strengthened by the victory of John Horgan’s minority government in BC. The Trudeau Liberals’ current polling numbers are not as good as the Horgan NDP numbers were in the prelude to the BC election. But they may be enough to win a majority government. BC is part of Justin Trudeau’s past, present, and future. And NDP Premier Horgan has already successfully test-driven the argument (along with Conservative Premier Higgs in New Brunswick) that you need a stable majority government to properly manage the global pandemic now upon us, and perhaps getting even worse.

WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT USA? In continental terms that make sense to US residents, BC is just British California (already British enough in its own right some might say, but …). It is hardly surprising that a vaguely socialist or at least social democratic political party should so soundly trounce conservatives in such a North American place in the fall of 2020.

On the other hand, like everywhere else in Canada BC has its own connections to American democracy and the American dream. And in its October 24, 2020 election, complete with mail-in ballots during the pandemic and so forth, the progressives did clearly win. And the conservatives clearly lost.

UPDATE OCT 26 : Meanwhile, back in the capital city of the 1867 confederation, “MPs vote to open investigation into federal COVID-19 response … Conservative motion passes with support of NDP and Bloc MPs over objections of industry, health experts.” And : “Ethics committee shuts down efforts to acquire speaking contracts involving Trudeau, wife”. And, finally, see Paul Wells in Maclean’s today on “I think this Parliament is broken”. It may be that the BC majority-government example will persuade more observers in Ottawa on the virtues of a federal snap election as well.

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