B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a campaign stop in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. A provincial election will be held on October 24. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

As B.C.’s opposition scrambles to get together a campaign what will span only just over a month, a University of B.C. professor says the Liberals may have a hard time differentiating themselves in the short few weeks before the election.

Two political science professors at the University of B.C., said the focus on COVID-19 could make for a challenging campaign for BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, who came hot out of the gate saying that NDP Leader John Horgan chose “politics over people” just hours after the writ dropped Monday (Sept. 21) morning for the Oct. 24 election.

“We do not need the cynical, self-serving, selfish move by the NDP to trigger an election right now,” Wilkinson said.

But Gerald Baier, an associate professor at UBC, said that strategy won’t work for long.

“At some point they have to change gears, too. They have to say ‘this is an unnecessary election but you have to vote us in, not the other guys.’”

During his press conference, Wilkinson laid what voters can expect to see from the Liberals: ” A plan to deal with the need for more employment, a plan to bring jobs to British Columbia, a plan to build the economy and bring investment.”

READ MORE: In snap election, Horgan must prove COVID-19 track record to cynical voters

Richard Johnston, a professor emeritus at UBC, agreed the Liberals won’t win points for long by focusing on how unnecessary the snap election may be. Instead, they’ll have to focus on the issues, which may largely involve poking holes in the NDP’s COVID response plan.

“It’ll be interesting to see if the Liberals have anything to say about the plight of the restaurant business. Will they be responsive to the demands for moving the liquor availability back to midnight?

Johnston said. “On the other hand, if they do that they may just get hammered as being irresponsible.”

Johnston said the argument about how tackle COVID is more about “the means than the ends,” making it harder to spell out how they differ from the NDP than in pre-pandemic times.

It’s unclear how much focusing on the economy will help Wilkinson at a time when signs of a second wave appear to be on the horizon.

“There’s a high tolerance for debt right now because interest rates are low and we know we need to do something,” Baier said. “This could be this ideal time for this kind of ideological argument that the NDP makes.”

Wilkinson, who Johnston dubbed “the missing man in B.C. politics” in recent months, did wade into social issues in his speech Monday, saying Liberals will have a plan to deal with the “nightmare of drug addiction that’s dominating our streets these…. a plan to make it easier for moms and dads to work when they have kids and a plan to build and secure housing all over British Columbia.”

None of the parties have released platforms so far.

READ MORE: B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

The annual Rotary Christmas Parade won’t be going ahead this year as it did last year, rolling through downtown Chilliwack on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Rotary Christmas Celebration for children will replace downtown Chilliwack parade this year

Parade committee felt it ‘inappropriate’ to host Christmas parade with thousands in the stands

The number of new COVID-19 cases in the Fraser South region has doubled in the last two weeks. The number of cases in the Fraser East region has tripled.
Chart: Tyler Olsen
COVID-19 surge in B.C. fuelled by spikes in new cases in Fraser Valley & Surrey area

Number of newly confirmed cases has tripled in Fraser Valley and doubled in the Surrey/Langley area

John Redekop, with wife Doris, was the 2019 recipient of the Betty Urquhart Community Service Award from UFV. (Photo courtesy of UFV)
Nominations open until Oct. 30 for UFV’s Betty Urquhart Awards

Award recognizes ‘significant impact’ of volunteer work by an individual or group

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Most Read