‘The case is not aimed at overturning or voiding the election results,’ said the group, but to prevent future ‘unfair’ snap elections

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A national political advocacy group is in court trying to get BC Premier John Horgan’s snap election call ruled unconstitutional.

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Democracy Watch, along with Wayne Crookes, the founder of Integrity BC, filed the motion after the September 2020 election was called, but the case was pushed to this week and is finally being heard in BC Supreme Court.

“The case is not aimed at overturning or voiding the election results,” said Democracy Watch in a statement announcing the court hearing. It said it aims to prevent “future illegal, unfair snap elections” and is asking the court to declare the premier’s call a violation of BC’s Constitution Act and of Canada’s constitutional principles.

“By calling a snap election during a pandemic instead of waiting for the fixed election date, Premier Horgan acted like an old-school power-crazed politician, not a new democrat committed to fair and democratic elections,” said Duff Conacher, a co- founder of Democracy Watch.

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The group says the only justification for a snap election is a motion of non-confidence in the legislature, something that didn’t occur during the Horgan NDP’s minority government prior to 2020.

Any other elections not held on the fixed election dates are clearly for political gain, and unfair to the opposition and those who had been planning to run at the fixed date, they argue.

“Hopefully the BC courts will rule that the premier violated the law when he called his self-interested, hypocritical and unfair snap election,” said Conacher, thus preventing future snap election calls.

The group said Horgan’s “cynical, power-grab scheme” during a pandemic was especially egregious, because it forced Elections BC into issuing emergency orders changing how polling would be carried out.

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While the hearing has slender hope of being successful, there is some precedent. In 2019, the UK Supreme Court ruled as unlawful Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament during the height of the Brexit crisis.

The BC hearing continues at the Vancouver courthouse on Friday morning.

Democracy Watch and Crookes have filed similar motions opposing snap elections in the past, including the New Brunswick election in August 2020 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national election call last August, arguing both were illegal, unfair and harmful to democratic principles.

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