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Democracy Watch and Wayne Crookes, founder of IntegrityBC, file lawsuit against B.C. Premier’s election call

Case is not to stop election – just to have the court rule election call was illegal

Friday, October 23, 2020

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch announced that, together with Wayne Crookes, founder of IntegrityBC, it has filed a petition in the B.C. Supreme Court challenging Premier John Horgan’s advice to the Lieutenant Governor to call the provincial snap election (B.C. Supreme Court file no. S2010710).

The case is not aimed at stopping the election. Instead, the petition only asks the court to declare that the Premier’s action violated the fixed election date measure in B.C.’s Constitution Act and the constitutional convention that has been created by premiers calling elections only on the fixed date in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017.

B.C. was the first jurisdiction in Canada to enact fixed election date measures with Bill 7 in 2001. The B.C. NDP showed it was in favour of fixed election dates when it introduced Bill 5 in 2017 to change the fixed election date from May to October. The fixed date for the next provincial election was set for the third Saturday in October 2021.

“Premier Horgan’s snap election call was self-interested, hypocritical and unfair, and it violates the fixed election date measures in B.C.’s constitution that the NDP has publicly supported, and the written agreement that the NDP had with the Green Party, and the good democratic tradition of fixed elections every four years that has developed through the past four B.C. elections” said Wayne Crookes, founder of Integrity B.C., who has filed an affidavit in support of the petition.

Calling a snap election in violation of B.C.’s constitution is bad – calling a snap election during a pandemic is even worse. Elections B.C. was forced by Premier Horgan’s cynical power grab-scheme to issue 16 emergency orders to change how polling stations will run and people will vote, and it will likely hurt voter turnout.

“By calling a snap election during a pandemic instead of waiting for the fixed election date a year from now, Premier Horgan acted like an old-school power-crazed politician, not a new democrat committed to fair and democratic elections,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Hopefully the B.C. courts will rule that the Premier violated the law when he called his self-interested, hypocritical and unfair snap election.”

Snap elections are unfair not only to opposition parties (as they are usually called when having an election favours the ruling party), but also to people who want to run as a candidate but can’t afford to suddenly drop everything and run. That’s why the federal Parliament, and every province except Nova Scotia, followed B.C.’s lead and enacted fixed election date measures. The UK Parliament has also enacted fixed election date measures.

Emily MacKinnon and Sarah Chaster of Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP in Vancouver are providing legal counsel to Democracy Watch and Wayne Crookes for the court case.

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Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Democratic Voting System Campaign