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

Olympia Taverna in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood was destroyed by a fire on Oct. 6. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Olympia Taverna fire deemed accidental

The Kelowna restaurant went up in flames late on Tuesday, Oct. 6

One of the chairs that was damaged in Peachland. (Brad Johnson - Facebook)
Peachland staff, ArtWalk hopeful art chairs will be back after vandalism

The ArtWalk chairs were found damaged less than a week after installation

Charmaine Scherck with her fiancee, Jason. Friends of the Vernon mortgage broker have started a GoFundMe after a spinal cord stroke left her paralyzed from the chest down Sept. 17, 2020. (Contributed)
Funds raised for Vernon woman who awoke mysteriously paralyzed

Friends are rallying support for Charmaine Scherck, who suffered a spinal cord stroke on Sept. 17

Lumby is proceeding with Halloween fireworks for 2020, but encouraging everyone to stay in their cars or watch from home. (Dale Eurich Photography - 2019)
Halloween fireworks curbed in all but two North Okanagan communities

COVID-19 forces Lake Country, Coldstream, BX, Armstrong to cancel events

An investigation is underway after reports of individuals linked to the sex trade were spotted near the notorious Salmon River Road property that was the subject of an extensive search in 2017 (pictured) that uncovered the remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux. (Jim Elliot - Salmon Arm Observer file)
Sex workers called out to area near Sagmoen farm: Vernon Mounties

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

Working smoothly together on May 11, 2020, health minister Adrian Dix, B.C. Liberal health critic Norm Letnick, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and sign language interpreter Nigel Howard. (B.C. government video)
COVID-19 co-operation a casualty of B.C.’s pandemic election

NDP’s Horgan weaponizes senior care, B.C. Liberal Wilkinson calls for ‘wartime economy’

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island residents warned to watch livestock, pets after bear kills llama

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Salmon Arm resident Baillie Bridle turned an 80 cent spin of an online slot machine into almost $800,000. (BCL photo)
Salmon Arm woman hits online jackpot, winning close to $800,000

Winner says money may be used to purchase boat

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

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A male deer was spotted with an arrow through its back near a Columbia Street home Oct. 19, 2020 in Penticton. (Dave Katt / Facebook)
Deer with arrow through back spotted roaming Penticton

Conservation officers are searching for the animal

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Most Read