B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan folds his ballot as he votes at Luxton Hall during advance polls for the provincial election in Langford, B.C., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan folds his ballot as he votes at Luxton Hall during advance polls for the provincial election in Langford, B.C., Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Canadians don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ when voting during pandemic: experts

Premier John Horgan’s NDP gained enough seats on Saturday to form a majority government

Monday’s re-election of another incumbent premier in Canada’s third recent provincial election shows Canadians don’t want to “rock the boat” during a global pandemic, say political experts.

Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick have all had elections in the last two months that were defined by COVID-19. All the incumbent parties were re-elected. And British Columbia and New Brunswick went from minority governments to majorities.

Although each election had its own provincial issues, three professors pointed out that the votes were in provinces that have had some success keeping the novel coronavirus under control. Voters may have been happy with how the leaders handled the health crisis and wanted to continue in the same direction.

“It’s so difficult to predict what voters had in mind but, if there is a collective will, certainly it does seem to point to … stability is what they wanted,” said Donald Wright, professor and chair of political science at the University of New Brunswick.

“Canadians can look at the disaster unfolding in the United States and be thankful they have good governments both in Ottawa and the provincial capitals. Canada may be very appreciative of the governments we had with the pandemic.”

New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservatives were re-elected in September with a majority for Premier Blaine Higgs. His snap election call made the province the first to hold a vote since the pandemic began.

A similar dynamic played out in British Columbia where Premier John Horgan’s NDP gained enough seats on Saturday to form a majority government.

“I can say that certainly in B.C., a big part of the dynamic was that people felt this jurisdiction (did) relatively well (with COVID) and consequently worried that any changing government might destabilize that,” said Max Cameron, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s political science department.

“I think it did produce that desire to not to rock the boat at this particular moment, so in a kind of ironic way, you could say that the experience of governing a minority actually catapulted the government into a majority.”

A similar sentiment must have been felt among Saskatchewan’s electorate Monday, said Gerald Baier, an associate political science professor at the University of British Columbia. Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe won a majority government, the party’s fourth in a row.

Moe and his opponent, NDP Leader Ryan Meili, had contrasting plans for how to steer the province through the pandemic.

Meili promised millions of dollars in increased spending for classrooms and to hire more front-line health workers. Moe promised to balance the books by the 2024-2025 fiscal year, while keeping the economy going and creating jobs through tax and rebate incentives.

“(If) people are happy with the job the government’s been doing during the pandemic, they’re much more likely to say, ‘Now is not the time for a change’,” said Baier.

“They’re much more likely to say, ‘Right now is not the time for a new set of hands on the wheel’ and I think that’s something that explains part of the dynamic in Saskatchewan.”

READ MORE: Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

CoronavirusElections

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

Just Posted

Twelve new curbside pickup parking spots are now in effect along 30th Avenue in downtown Vernon. (Downtown Vernon Association photo)
Downtown Vernon curbside pick up parking now in drive

12 locations along 30th Avenue intended to help retail and dining sectors amid COVID-19

Vernon Search and Rescue members assisted a groomer operator on the trails at SilverStar Mountain Resort Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue helps stranded groomer at Silver Star

Three members responded to the operator whose groomer experienced a mechanical issue Nov. 29

A woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 uses walking sticks while walking up a hill, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Interior Health reports 83 more COVID-19 infections overnight

46 cases are now associated with a COVID-19 community cluster in Revelstoke

An Enderby restaurant and pub has been shut down since Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, 2020 as a precaution after a guest reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. (Howard Johnson photo)
Enderby pub shuts down after guest reportedly tests positive for COVID-19

The Howard Johnson hotel, restaurant and pub has been closed since Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29

Vernon taxpayers can expect a 2.55 per cent increase for 2021. (File photo)
Vernon scales back 2021 tax increase

Pause of infrastructure levy program reduces burden on taxpayers

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Brent Ross poses with his dog Jack who died over the weekend after asphyxiating on a ball. Ross hopes his experience serves as a cautionary tale to other dog owners. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm man warns others after dog dies from choking on a ball

Brent Ross grieving the sudden loss of Jack, a healthy, seven-year-old chocolate lab

Mayor Colin Basran at the announcement of the 2021 Tim Horton’s Brier to be hosted in Kelowna on Nov. 21. (Contributed)
Tim Hortons Brier not coming to Kelowna

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted Curling Canada to move to hub model, similar to the NHL playoffs

Robert Gibson, born November 24, 2020 is in BC Children’s Hospital. Photo contributed
Princeton baby fights for his life, with parents at his side

A Go Fund Me campaign has been started to help family with expenses

Grapevine Optical was the victim of an early morning break and enter Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Crime Stoppers Okanagan / Facebook)
Collection of designer sunglasses stolen from South Okanagan eye-wear shop

Crime Stoppers is seeking the identity of two male suspects

By this time next year, the BC Green Pharmadeuticals cannabis growing facility in Princeton is expected to employ at least 150 people, according to the owner. (File photo)
Princeton cannabis plant thriving despite lawsuit and bad press, says owner

Company expects to hire 30 more employees in the next two months

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Most Read