(Opposition leaders Andrew Wilkinson, Sonia Furstenau)

The leaders of opposition parties in British Columbia have spoken out in condemnation of NDP leader John Horgan calling a snap election in the midst of a pandemic this October.

The newly elected Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau, who holds one of two seats in the BC legislature to form a minority government with the NDP, said she is disappointed at the NDP’s decision to go to the polls in just 32 days.

Earlier on Monday, Premier John Horgan cited former Green Party leader Andrew Weaver stepping down in January as a cause of “instability” in government and implied that the ensuing change in leadership will cause “12 more months of bickering”.

In response, Furstenau called Horgan’s reasoning an excuse, and calls the election irresponsible and unnecessary.

“We’ve just had an unprecedented level of cooperation in the BC legislature, and we’ve been able to govern through a pandemic in the interest of British Columbians,” she said.

“This has not been a time of instability, it has been a time of unbelievable cooperation and collaboration. This is what John Horgan should have continued doing. This is an irresponsible and unnecessary election. Whatever excuses he’s making up for it, this is about him and this party putting their fortune ahead of British Columbians.”

Furstenau declined to speculate on whether the Greens would continue to support the BC NDPs in the event that a majority government be formed after the election.

Despite short notice, she added that the BC Green Party intends to run a province-wide campaign but there are no exact numbers for how many ridings the party has candidates for.

“We are ready to present to British Columbians an alternative to the kinds of politics that have been dominating this province for far too long.”

BC’s official opposition

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson kicked off his campaign with a blunt assessment of the outgoing premier’s announcement: “Today, John Horgan chose politics over people.”

Early messaging from the Liberals through their social media has focused on the economy and on what Wilkinson described as a “crime wave sweeping across BC right now.”

When asked for details of the platform, he said that announcements would be coming later this week.

The Liberals took time in their press conference to introduce a dozen candidates running in ridings throughout B.C., including in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Mid Island-Pacific Rim.

The two ridings are sure to see fierce competition, with former Green leader Andrew Weaver set to retire from his riding in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Minister of Indigenous Relations Scott Fraser announcing he will not seek re-election in Mid Island-Pacific Rim.

Wilkinson added that the election is going to look different due to COVID-19 restrictions, and his party will be active on social media to get the Liberal message out.

“We’re in difficult times. This has never been the scenario that anyone expected.”

The Liberal leader also lashed out at the BC NDP for “tearing up” their agreement with the Green party.

“What kind of person does that?” Wilkinson said. “Rips up an agreement? The answer is John Horgan does that.”

With files from Tim Ford.