Canada

Canadians don’t want to ‘rock the boat’ when voting during pandemic: experts

New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservatives were re-elected in September with a majority for Premier Blaine Higgs. His snap election call made the province the first to hold a vote since the pandemic began.

A similar dynamic played out in British Columbia where Premier John Horgan’s NDP gained enough seats on Saturday to form a majority government.

“I can say that certainly in B.C., a big part of the dynamic was that people felt this jurisdiction (did) relatively well (with COVID) and consequently worried that any changing government might destabilize that,” said Max Cameron, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s political science department.

“I think it did produce that desire to not to rock the boat at this particular moment, so in a kind of ironic way, you could say that the experience of governing a minority actually catapulted the government into a majority.”

A similar sentiment must have been felt among Saskatchewan’s electorate Monday, said Gerald Baier, an associate political science professor at the University of British Columbia. Saskatchewan Party Leader Scott Moe won a majority government, the party’s fourth in a row.

Moe and his opponent, NDP Leader Ryan Meili, had contrasting plans for how to steer the province through the pandemic.

Meili promised millions of dollars in increased spending for classrooms and to hire more front-line health workers. Moe promised to balance the books by the 2024-2025 fiscal year, while keeping the economy going and creating jobs through tax and rebate incentives.

“(If) people are happy with the job the government’s been doing during the pandemic, they’re much more likely to say, ‘Now is not the time for a change’,” said Baier.

“They’re much more likely to say, ‘Right now is not the time for a new set of hands on the wheel’ and I think that’s something that explains part of the dynamic in Saskatchewan.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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