An Election Held During Pandemic and Economic Crisis

Indigenous youth and their supporters gather on the BC legislature steps during February 2020, holding discussions and other programs to work out how to have their voices heard and rights recognized.

BC Premier John Horgan has called a provincial election for October 24. By calling an election, the NDP minority government unilaterally broke an agreement with the Green Party to govern until next year. The surprise election has been characterized as an NDP shock-and-awe attack to gain absolute control of the Legislature.

The election farce is designed to stop the movement of the people towards their empowerment. Suggesting an election of a certain cartel party will solve the problems the people and economy face is a massive disruption and fraud. The people must remain faithful to their own efforts in organizing actions with analysis to defend their claims and the rights of all and not fall prey to the deception of this election in the service of the rich. The ruling elite use election frauds to convince working people to see solutions to economic and social problems in voting for a cartel party rather than through their own empowerment and independent organizations dedicated to building the New.

The election during the pandemic and economic crisis exposes in a dramatic way the failings of the current electoral process. The election as it has unfolded reveals the absence of democracy for the broad masses of the people and their alienation from any possibility to participate meaningfully in choosing the candidates in the election or subsequently the members of the government.

Premier Horgan called the election on September 21. Anyone wishing to run in the election had to register with Elections BC by October 2. No other party was privy to the call of the election. This meant that the polity and their collectives had only eleven days to choose and register candidates. This fact alone exposes the outdated and backward method of choosing candidates, which effectively excludes the vast majority of people and their collectives from a process the state-financed political parties dominate. In a modern democracy the selection of candidates should be a most important process that directly involves the people and their collectives. Otherwise, the vote for a government representative becomes meaningless.

State-financed political parties and monopoly-controlled mass media dominate a corrupt electoral process where cartel parties of the ruling elite are brought to power not leaders chosen by the people and their collectives. The corruption is proved by the reality that only two state-financed parties, the NDP and Liberals, had enough money and employees to register a full slate of 87 candidates. Even the Green Party fell short with only 74 candidates. Other parties dropped out altogether or fielded a smaller number.

Ten parties in total will run at least one candidate, plus 24 independents, for a total of 332 registered candidates. The 10 parties participating in the election is down from 18 parties that presented candidates in the 2017 provincial election. The current 332 candidates are also fewer than the 371 candidates in the previous election.

During a press conference, Sonia Furstenau, the new leader of the provincial Green Party, expressed dismay that her party was fielding fewer candidates than in 2017. She accused Premier Horgan of taking advantage of the NDP's position as governing party and its receipt of favourable media coverage during the pandemic.

"We were blindsided by this unnecessary election call, we had exactly zero candidates nominated because we believed the Confidence and Supply Agreement and the legislation that ensures we were supposed to have an election on a fixed election date in October of 2021 -- we believed that the NDP government would abide by their agreement and by the law. They didn't," said Furstenau.

The state-financed political parties, the public relations marketing companies, the neo-liberal think tanks and biggest monopolies and cartels operating in the province control the choice of candidates and decide the issues that dominate the election and mass media. Within the electoral process itself and mass media, the polity and its collectives play no role in deciding the official issues of concern and what an elected government should do to uphold its social responsibilities to the people and society, and to hold it to account if it fails to do so.

Because of the provincial pandemic health restrictions, this election reveals the truly undemocratic character of the electoral process. No all-candidates meetings in the ridings are scheduled. Very little mass work can be undertaken. News of the election appears in carefully controlled sound bites and ads in the imperialist mass media. The only discussions surrounding the election take place within small collectives mostly outside of any direct connection with the electoral process.

Almost immediately after calling the election, the NDP began airing campaign ads on TV and elsewhere attacking the Liberal Party and telling the people the issues in the election. These were soon followed by an onslaught of ads from the Liberal Party attacking the NDP and presenting its own version of issues. The NDP and Liberal ads and news coverage, their attacks on each other, and their promises and policy objectives are aimed at disempowering and depoliticizing the people, turning them into voting cattle and negating their own organizing and fight for their rights and claims.

Members of the polity are reduced to consumers of a show to convince them to vote for this or that cartel political party. The defunct liberal-democratic institutions, including the electoral process, are incapable of mobilizing the people to discuss the concrete conditions, sort out what has to be done to solve problems, and come to some agreement and consensus on finding a new direction and aim for the crisis-ridden economy so as to meet the needs of the people and society, and to humanize the social and natural environment.

On the eve of the election call the BC government issued a report in which it decried the economic conditions and the insecurity of the people:

"In Canada, economic activity fell by an annualized 38.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2020 -- a record drop in such a short period of time. In BC, the unemployment rate increased to 13.4 per cent in May from 5.0 per cent in February.... The public-facing service sector was hit very hard, with employment declines concentrated in retail trade, information, culture and recreation, and accommodation and food services. Women and youth were especially affected [...] The result was a situation in which the most vulnerable people in the labour market bore the brunt of the slowdown.... Nominal retail sales in BC experience[ed] its largest monthly decline on record in April. [... BC had] 149,600 fewer jobs in August compared to February."[1]

The liberal-democratic election fraud cannot solve the very real problems facing the economy and people. The measures the government has taken and its promises and those of the opposition refuse to address the failed direction of the economy and engage the people in discussion and mobilization to defeat the pandemic and to find and implement a new direction to stop paying the rich, increase investments in social programs and defend the rights of all.

The people are determined not to allow the election fraud to divert them from organizing to claim what belongs to them by right. Through uniting with their peers and engaging in actions with analysis to solve the problems of the failed economy and its liberal-democratic institutions, the people are determined to empower themselves to build the New.


1. See "Economic Recovery Plan for BC: Restructuring State Arrangements to Strengthen Provincial Pay-the-Rich Economy," TML Weekly, October 3, 2020

(Photos: TML, R. Gillezeau)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 38 - October 10, 2020

Article Link:
An Election Held During Pandemic and Economic Crisis - K.C. Adams


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