With a snap election confirmed Monday (Sept. 21) in B.C. for Oct. 24, so far the Cariboo Chilcotin riding has one declared candidate.
Lorne Doerkson confirmed he was appointed to run for the BC Liberals in the Cariboo Chilcotin.
“I’m thrilled,” Doerkson told Black Press Monday afternoon. “I am extremely grateful to the volunteers who have been working with me over the last month and a half to get my name out there.”
Doerkson confirmed on Aug. 26 he was hoping to be a potential successor for Liberal MLA Donna Barnett who is not seeking re-election.
“I’m excited to take over for Donna Barnett who left quite an impression on this riding and certainly the people of it and I know that it is going to be a big task to fill the shoes of Donna. She has been an unbelievable ambassador of this region and I hope to carry on that tradition.”
Barnett told Black Press Media Horgan’s decision to call a snap election is all about retaining power when it should be about the people.
“This is all about people, it should not be about politics but with him, it’s all about politics,” she said. “He could have just as good a chance next year. It’s how you deliver policies, how you care about the people of British Columbia. People don’t always vote for a party, they vote for a person who shows them compassion.”
She said Doerkson cares about the people, not the politics and she will be working on his campaign and being an “aggravator.”
“I’m officially unemployed but there are still things I have the right to do,” she said. “We will be getting in election mode.”
Barnett said now is not the time for an election.
“The time for an election is a year from now so by then hopefully the pandemic is under control, we have a vaccine that’s under control and the people of British Columbia can then think about governance. They’re thinking of their children, their parents, their jobs and their future right now.”
New Democratic Party (NDP) Premier John Horgan said he ‘struggled mightily’ with the decision to call an early vote, but the long duration of the pandemic requires stability.
In the Cariboo-Chilcotin the NDP party does not have a candidate yet.
Cariboo-Chilcotin NDP association president Jean Oke, however, told the Tribune Monday the party has seven days to file nomination papers for a candidate.
“We will have one for sure,” Oke said, adding the party is presently vetting some possible candidates and welcomes any good suggestions of candidates.
Sally Watson, who ran in the riding for the NDP in the 2017 election, confirmed she would not be seeking the nomination.
The Green Party of British Columbia did not confirm a specific candidate for the riding, but said the the party will be dividing announcements of its candidates to roll out in the next few days.
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.
Michael Geoghegan, who was vying for the BC Liberals nomination in the Cariboo-Chilcotin riding, said he received a phone call from the BC Liberals Monday letting him know Doerkson would be the party’s local candidate.
Geoghegan said with it being a snap election it made sense to go with a candidate that’s been living in the riding for as long as Doerkson has.
Elections BC chief electoral officer Anton Boegman said their main focus will be to ensure a safe and accessible voting process during the pandemic,Voting safely and COVID-19.
Elections BC is implementing a number of measures to help voters cast their ballot safely in person. Pandemic voting protocols have been developed in consultation with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer.
Safe voting practices for voting places are available at elections.bc.ca/safevoting and will include physical distancing, capacity limits, election officials wearing personal protective equipment (such as masks and face-visors), protective barriers, hand sanitizing stations and frequent cleaning of voting stations and frequently touched surfaces.
“We encourage voters to wear a mask when they vote to help protect others. Voters will not be asked to remove their mask to vote. Voters will be asked to sanitize their hands before and after voting,” notes a press release from Elections BC.
“To prevent close contact, some familiar voting procedures may be different. For example, voters will make a verbal declaration of their eligibility to vote instead of signing a voting book. Voters also can bring their own pen or pencil to mark their ballot.”
With files from Ashley Wadhwani and Tom Fletcher