We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
BC Election 2020
BC Politics

Please Advise! Last Week You Wrote Horgan Wouldn’t Call an Election. Today...

Dr. Steve explains it’s always easy to overestimate a politician’s sense of responsibility.

Steve Burgess 21 Sep 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Nice crystal ball you’ve got there, Nostradamus. Last week you said B.C. Premier John Horgan wouldn’t call a fall election. Now the provincial election is on for Oct. 24. How much do they pay you to be wrong all the time, big shot?


Not Impressed

Dear Clown Nose,

You understand nothing. Sure, Doc Steve suggested that Horgan would be too smart to call a fall vote. That should have been your first clue. If Dr. Steve suggests a politician is too smart to do something, obviously he is implying that’s just what said politician will do.

Also, this is politics we’re talking about. This is the business where South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham can oppose the appointment of a Supreme Court justice eight months before the 2016 U.S. election and proclaim that should he ever change his mind, “I want you to use my own words against me,” and then take the opposite position four years later without a shred of embarrassment. That’s the way it’s done, folks.

Shame is for suckers. Dr. Steve is proud to do a 180-degree turn. A high-speed manoeuvre like that takes a true professional.

Besides, Dr. Steve has said it before: He saves his real prognostications for the paying customers. Freeloaders like you get bullshit and table scraps.

Anyway, away we go. And Horgan is indeed getting a lot of flak as Dr. Steve so sagely predicted. Calling the province’s very first COVID-19 vote was a dicey proposition. But it had to be done, Horgan said today — for you! “I want to get the election behind us, not for me, but for the people of British Columbia,” Horgan said with a straight face worthy of Sen. Graham.

The Confidence and Supply Agreement signed with the BC Greens three years ago has been invalidated by changing circumstances, Horgan said. Reporters have no doubt been scrambling around hoping to find some 2017 video of Horgan saying, “If I ever break this agreement, I want you to use my words against me,” but so far no luck.

COVID-19 has been a global disaster. But as the old (and often misinterpreted) saying goes, “It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good,” and indeed there are those that have benefited from the pandemic.

The NDP, for instance. Not in any sleazy or underhanded way — their poll numbers have benefited from the government’s calm and relatively efficient handling of the crisis. Nothing sleazy about that.

But the early election call risks making it seem that way. As Horgan seeks to cash in on those high poll numbers, what had been a spectacle of good government could come to be seen as an example of cynical opportunism.

Someone else who has arguably benefited from the COVID-19 crisis is BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson. He has kept a relatively low profile during the pandemic. For him, that’s a solid strategy. Wilkinson is not a particularly attractive political figure. He has a talent for coming off as sour, petty and unpleasant.

To some extent that goes with being Opposition leader (Horgan himself has said that the relentless negativity of the Opposition role can be soul-destroying). But Wilkinson displayed those qualities even before landing the job of Liberal leader. He will be better off if the spotlight remains on Horgan and the argument that a fall election call was cynical and unsafe.

The question is, can an election truly be defined by the issue of “There shouldn’t have been an election”? Will people be so annoyed at Horgan’s opportunism that they will vote for Wilkinson?

It is at this point that newly elected BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau clears her throat. Obviously, the Greens hope that annoyance at the early election call will drive progressive voters to support them rather than the NDP. Furstenau has barely gotten her party leader suit back from the tailors and has been thrown straight into the fray. She’s like Ken Dryden who essentially started his NHL career in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Dryden went on to win the cup with his Montreal Canadiens teammates. (Later Dryden went into politics and lost a Liberal leadership race. So whichever way things work out for Furstenau, Dr. Steve is covered, Dryden-analogy-wise.)

This will certainly be a unique vote. Thanks to social distancing, we could potentially see both the lightest turnout and the longest lines in B.C. history.

As for the election issue — that is to say, the issue of whether there should have been an election at all — Dr. Steve would suggest that it might be expected to depress turnout rather than drive party-switching. Those who think there shouldn’t be an election are likely to just stay home. If the focus drifts back to good government, Horgan’s gamble should pay off.

But if NDP support plummets, Dr. Steve wants you to use his words against him. He’ll come up with some more bullshit for you then.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Do not:

  •  Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully, threaten, name-call or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, downvote, or flag suspect activity
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls and flag violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Stay on topic
  • Connect with each other


The Barometer

Tyee Poll: Do You Think BC Should Change Its Pandemic Plan for Schools?

Take this week's poll