Central Okanagan political candidates are gearing up for a campaign after B.C. Premier John Horgan officially terminated his minority government agreement with the B.C. Green Party on Sept. 21 and called an election for Oct. 24.
BC Liberals Norm Letnick and Ben Stewart — who previously represented the Kelowna-Lake Country and Kelowna West ridings respectively — will both be back on the ballot in October alongside a new face.
Local developer Renee Merrifield, will be running for the Liberals in Kelowna-Mission. That riding was formerly held by Steve Thomson but he announced in December he would not be seeking reelection after more than a decade in the legislature.
Letnick and Stewart both maintain that this election has been called sheerly out of the political interest of the BC NDP, calling the snap election “unnecessary.”
“We have a fixed election date for a reason: so politicians like Mr. Horgan can’t try to arrange election dates when it suits political parties,” said Letnick. “He’s obviously putting his own needs above those of the province.”
Letnick said he hopes people see the election call for “what it is” and go to the polls with that in mind.
Stewart said the election call is “political opportunism” on Horgan’s part.
“He clearly doesn’t want to have any impediments to be able to govern,” Stewart said. “And working with the CASA agreement (with the Greens), which they’ve done successfully for the last three-plus years, wasn’t acceptable I guess.”
At a news conference in his home community of Langford Sept. 21, Horgan said he has “struggled mightily” with the decision to call an early vote, but the long duration of the pandemic requires stability. That stability is eroded three and a half years into his term with former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sitting as an independent and preparing to retire, he said.
“I believe the best way forward is to put the politics behind us,” Horgan said, adding that sticking to the legislated election schedule would be “time well wasted.”
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