Premier Christy Clark ended months of speculation Wednesday, announcing she will wait until the scheduled date of March 2013 to face the voters in a general election.
Since winning the B.C. Liberal leadership in February, Clark has questioned whether she has a sufficient mandate to govern until the election date specified in provincial law. She reversed that position in interviews with selected Vancouver media outlets Wednesday.
“I think it’s great,” said Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster of the no-election call. “The premier went around the province, talked to people and talked to caucus. As much as she wanted to go this fall, the people of the province didn’t and she listened.”
“I support her decision, I think it was a wise decision,” added Shuswap MLA, and education minister, George Abbott.
“It will give us an additional opportunity to rebuild politically, and give us some opportunity in the ministry I’m leading for improvement and renewal of the system.”
Clark denied that the defeat of the harmonized sales tax or party polling changed her mind. In various interviews, she emphasized the instability of the world economy and the lack of a public appetite for another election this year.
“What she heard all over the province for the last two months from riding executives, supporters and non-supporters is that people are tired of elections,” said Foster. “If you don’t need one, don’t have one.”
NDP leader Adrian Dix said the government’s unpopularity after the two-year HST furore and its lack of new ideas are the reason for the reversal.
After being sworn in as premier, Clark appointed an election readiness committee chaired by Energy Minister Rich Coleman and Brad Bennett, son of former premier Bill Bennett. Election preparations recently cost Clark a cabinet minister, as Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner stepped down as attorney-general in August, citing the pressure to name a campaign team for a possible fall election.
B.C.’s election law specifies a provincial election every four years, but reserves the traditional right of the government to deal with unusual circumstances such as death or resignation.