Another minority government would be good for British Columbia: Green leader

VICTORIA — The ideal outcome of British Columbia's looming provincial election would involve another minority government, the head of the province's Green Party said Saturday.

Sonia Furstenau said no single party should have absolute power in the legislature, arguing such a setup wouldn't provide proper accountability over the next four years.

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"We know that majorities deliver scandals, crises," Furstenau said during a campaign stop in Victoria. "What we've had with a minority government for 3 1/2 years has been stable governance that has moved forward on a number of issues."

An agreement reached with B.C.'s Green party in 2017 allowed John Horgan's NDP minority government to function.

B.C. has a fixed election date for October 2021, but Horgan argued the province needed stability during the COVID-19 pandemic when he called an early election and set the date for Oct. 24.

While campaigning in Revelstoke, B.C., on Saturday, Horgan agreed his government accomplished a great deal as a minority.

But he said he looked at the problems on the horizon, including a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and decided he wanted to get an election out of the way.

"It's my view, and I grappled with this, but I believe in my heart the best way forward is to have a secure and stable government."

Furstenau said she and other Green candidates were "blindsided" by the early call to the polls.

She said the party had no candidates nominated in any of the 87 ridings and she's proud that they managed to fill most of those positions by Friday's deadline.

"In 11 days, one week after I became leader of this party, a very small, very committed, incredibly hard-working staff managed to get 74 people on ballots," she said. "...I think that is an extraordinary achievement."

Both the Liberal and the New Democratic parties have fielded candidates in all 87 ridings.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said in a statement he is proud of the team they put together for the election.

"Rather than looking out for the needs of the people he is supposed to serve, John Horgan decided to look out for himself, calling a snap election in the middle of a global pandemic," Wilkinson said.

"The B.C. Liberals are committed to putting the needs of all British Columbians first, with a diverse and experienced group of candidates from every corner of this province, who are ready to work for all of B.C."

Horgan announced on Saturday that a re-elected NDP government would create more jobs and value in the forestry sector through mass timber, engineered wood that can be used in large-scale construction projects.

He said a re-elected NDP government would aim to expand the B.C. timber market beyond the United States.

"The Asian market is enormous for our wood products," he said. "We want to start selling more than just two-by-fours."

Meanwhile, Elections BC said it wrapped up an investigation into allegations of corrupt voting by a Liberal candidate, saying it found no evidence to shore up the claims.

A probe was launched earlier this week after a complaint from the NDP alleging the campaign for Liberal candidate Garry Thind was gathering personal information to illegally request vote-by-mail packages.

It's illegal to obtain a ballot on behalf of another voter.

A statement from Elections BC said it found no evidence of improper vote-by-mail package requests.

It ruled the complaint against Thind, the candidate in district of Surrey-Fleetwood, has been closed.

Voting by mail is expected to play a larger role in the election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and so far, 494,000 ballots have been requested by voters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2020.

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