MLA Dan Ashton (Contributed)

Ashton questions need for fall provincial election

MLA for riding of Penticton has served in legislature since 2013

Dan Ashton, the Liberal MLA for the riding of Penticton, will seek re-election in the next provincial election, but he believes an election should not be held this fall.

“Why, and especially right now?” he asked.

He said the provincial government has fixed election dates in place, with the next election scheduled to be held on or before Oct. 16, 2021.

During a minority government, elections may occur sooner than when a majority government is in power.

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The present government is a minority, with John Horgan of the New Democratic Party as premier. The BC Liberals and the New Democrats each have 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens have three seats.

Ashton said the coalition between the New Democrats and the Greens gives the New Democrats the power in the legislature, and as a result, a provincial election is unnecessary at this time.

He added now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a bad time to hold an election.

“Our office is deluged with people who are in trouble,” he said.

In addition to those who have lost jobs or have seen income supplies dwindle because of the pandemic, Ashton said the agriculture industry has also been hard hit.

The cherry crop this year was significantly lower than normal and fruit growers have had a difficult time finding enough pickers to harvest the crop.

Tourism numbers were also lower than normal, affecting those in that industry, he said.

In addition, Ashton believes campaigning would be difficult this fall because of the pandemic.

Ashton was first elected to the legislature in 2013 and was re-elected in 2017. He is the Agri-Tourism critic for the BC Liberals and is deputy chair of the special committee to review the Personal Information Protection Act. Before entering provincial politics, he served on Penticton council as a councillor for three terms and as mayor for two terms.

He also served 10 terms on the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and spent four years as a trustee on the Municipal Finance Authority.

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