B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak and leader Andrew Wilkinson describe meeting with Speaker Darryl Plecas at B.C. legislature, May 30, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media)

B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak and leader Andrew Wilkinson describe meeting with Speaker Darryl Plecas at B.C. legislature, May 30, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media)

Langley MLA disappointed election call came during pandemic

Mary Polak said she still wants to help constituents when asked why she’s running again

Langley Liberal MLA Mary Polak said fixed election dates would have allowed the province to be ready for an election next autumn.

Now voters, candidates, and parties are scrambling with the election call for Oct. 24.

Polak, first elected in 2005, said it’s not a complete surprise that Premier John Horgan dropped the writ because “they’ve [the NDP] been dancing around this for quite some time.”

But she’s disappointed because NDP MLAs and others stood in the Legislature in the spring and said they were committed to the concept of fixed election dates.

Polak said more importantly, it would have happened next autumn when society has a better handle on COVID-19.

As it stands, a 2020 election will be unlike any voters have ever experienced.

Polak said the pandemic precludes in-person campaigning, public townhalls and other such gatherings, especially since case numbers are rising.

“It’s going to mean a lot more use of technology. Lots of phone calls,” she said. “But it also means the date of voting will be somewhat different.”

The Liberals say they will go to a great deal of effort to educate that voters that while general election day is Oct. 24, voters can cast ballots throughout the election period and how they would go about that.

“We’re going to make sure people know that,” Polak said.

The pandemic will impact every aspect of a traditional election campaign.

There will be no main-streeting, she noted. While there is some discussion about whether to do door-knocking, she said she’s not comfortable doing that.

“It will be largely a technological campaign,” Polak commented.

She added that the Liberals are already having conversations about their concerns over technology and whether that will leave out certain groups.

“There are people like our seniors who are not as comfortable with technology so how do you reach them,” she said.

A set election date would have allowed election officials and parties to plan for such things to hopefully overcome barriers to voting.

As well, an election during the pandemic means key policy work and decision making cannot get done because all the government ministers are off campaigning. That removes any government nimbleness to deal with the changing situation.

“You have shut down government effectively for the next 32 days,” Polak said.

Despite the challenges, Polak wants to continue as Langley’s MLA. Since being elected first in 2005, she’s been minister of environment, minister of transportation and infrastructure, and minister of children and families, among other duties.

She said she is running this time for the same reason she ran 15 years ago – “The main reason you get involved in the first place, is the same reason you stay. You want to help people,” Polak said.

Conservatives

The Langley BC Conservatives Association plans to run candidates in both the Langley and Langley East ridings.

“We will have candidates in both ridings, and they will be announced in the next few days,” said

Justin Greenwood, president of the Conservative Party of BC.

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• WATCH for updates from the various parties…

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