After rolling out dozens of spending announcements and updates in recent days, B.C. Premier John Horgan has officially terminated his minority government agreement with the B.C. Green Party and called an election for Oct. 24.
Opposition parties have demanded Horgan not to call an election a year early, as B.C.’s COVID-19 cases increase to the point where the province has the highest per-capita infection rate in Canada.
B.C.’s election law specifies a minimum 28-day campaign period with an election falling on a Saturday, so the next available date from Monday’s announcement is Oct. 24. The law currently specifies the next election in the fall of 2021, but permits the lieutenant governor to accept a recommendation for an earlier vote.
Here are some potential candidates in the Stikine riding:
After more than two decades in political life, Doug Donaldson, B.C.’s forest minister said he is not running for another re-election. He has represented the riding since 2009 and served as a Village of Hazelton councillor for 10 years before that.
“After 22 years in public life, it’s time to get back to the balance of spending more time on the land with family and friends, both in the backcountry and at home on Gitxsan territory,” Donaldson said in a statement Monday (Sept. 14).
Instead, the party enlisted veteran federal politician Nathan Cullen.
Cullen served as the federal NDP member of parliament for the riding of Skeena — Bulkley Valley from 2004 to 2019. Cullen ran for the leadership of the federal NDP in 2012, placing third. He went on to serve as the House Leader for the Official Opposition, Finance Critic and NDP critic for Environment and Climate Change and Democratic reform. Cullen has been recognized several times for his performance, including being called Parliamentarian of the Year for 2018 by Maclean’s magazine based on voting by MPs from all parties.
His nomination, however, announced just hours after the election call, immediately sparked controversy because it appears to contravene the NDP’s equity policy, which states when a man retires from an NDP-held seat his replacement should be a woman or “equity-seeking” man, i.e., person of colour or member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Annita McPhee, three-time past president of the Tahltan Central Government, who was intending to seek the nomination, had already called on Cullen’s bid to be nullified after he announced he was seeking the nomination prior to the election call.
McPhee sought the nomination for the federal NDP in the Skeena — Bulkley Valley riding in 2019, eventually losing to current NDP MP Taylor Bachrach.
McPhee holds a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Victoria, and has been an advisor and director on several provincial and national boards including the Legal Services Society, Vancouver Board of Trade’s Aboriginal Affairs Committee, BC Hydro’s Strategic Aboriginal Engagement Committee, and the Minister of Aboriginal Relations Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women.
British Columbia Liberal Party:
On Sept. 22 the party announced that Gitxsan Hereditary Chief and lawyer Gordon Sebastian would be the candidate for Stikine. Since 2003, Sebastian has served as executive director of the Gitxsan Treaty Society.
Sebastian declined to comment on the election call saying he wants to focus on issues. The first is pay for ambulance attendants. He said these health workers are overworked and underpaid in the region and a Liberal government would immediately address that issue.
They also want to get the Hazelton pellet plant project back on track, which he said has been derailed by lack of commitment from the provincial government.
Finally, he said, with the province facing a second wave of the coronavirus, hospital capacity in the region is sorely inadequate to deal with a potential influx of patients.
Wanda Good ran as the BC Liberal candidate in the 2017 provincial election, finishing second with 39 per cent of the vote.
BC Green Party:
The BC Green Party is in the process of finalizing its list of candidates and will be making announcements in the coming days.
Christian Heritage Party of British Columbia:
Telkwa’s Rod Taylor said he will be the CHP’s candidate in Stikine again this election, after placing third in the riding in 2017, earning 834 votes — just over nine per cent.
Taylor worked in the lumber industry in Smithers and Witset before becoming leader of the federal Christian Heritage Party in 2014. He served as the provincial wing’s interim leader from 2013 until Sept. 14, 2020, when Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson was elected provincial leader.
In an August interview with The Interior News, the fledgling BC EcoSocialist Party’s Skeena and Bulkley Valley regional director Edward Quinlan did not rule out running as a Stikine candidate in a future election, but said at the time there was far too much work to do in organizing the party before entertaining those kinds of thoughts.
The BC Ecosocialists Party could not be reached for comment.
With Files from Quinn Bender, Rod Link, Thom Barker, Ashley Wadhwani