Martyn Brown: John Horgan unmasked—I christen thee Premier Capitalist

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      Watching Premier John Horgan’s pathetic squirming in trying to stick to his Big Lie in explaining his ever shifting rationale for imposing his odious snap election should tell all voters all they need to know about his true obvious motives.

      I guess it was too much to expect him to resist the temptation of trading on his mostly well-earned popularity to try to consolidate his power as Emperor Supreme for at least another term. 

      The law, his sworn word, and public health be damned.

      He has determined to subject all British Columbians to an unthinkably irresponsible and widely unwanted election in the midst of a global pandemic, just as most of us feared he would.

      Machiavellian political hack that he has revealed himself to be, underneath his disingenuous mask.

      Why? His utterly absurd initial rationale speaks for itself as being one of the most dishonest acts of political arrogance and hubris.

      In Horgan’s words, “I want to get the election behind us, not for myself but for the people of B.C. because they can’t afford to have partisan hectoring and uncertainty about whether bills will pass or not, which is what we’ve experienced over the past three-and-a-half years.” 

      What an insult to all voters’ intelligence and to former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver’s legacy as Horgan’s chief partner in power over the last three-and-a-half years.

      “Not for myself”, this election you understand, “but for the people of B.C."—a killer quote that perhaps says more about the real John Horgan than any of us who up until now strongly supported him would have dared to admit.

      Arguably, that wasn’t even Horgan’s most ludicrous excuse for forcing an early vote that anyone with half a brain would know is grossly irresponsible and unethical.

      “The best way forward is put politics behind us,” he said. “Let’s address the differences we may have now, so that we can all come together after October 24. … Twelve more months of politics and partisan wrangling will not serve anyone.”

      Wow. Just wow.

      May that farcical pretext for Horgan’s truly evil action come back to haunt him as Wilkinson’s knockout blow in a leaders’ debate—assuming our now self-discredited premier doesn’t also try to further demean himself by trying to wiggle out of facing his opponents in that forum.

      B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has been largely supportive of the B.C. government's efforts to contain the pandemic—and now his party may be punished for this.

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      What a sad day for all British Columbians and for anyone who, like me, stupidly put their trust in him and the NDP.

      What a travesty of progressive promise to see him spit on that mantle by choosing to dishonour his binding word in the confidence and supply agreement and to make a mockery of B.C.’s legislated fixed election date.

      Which is not to say that Horgan’s opportunistic gambit will not work as planned in reelecting his sullied government with a massive majority. 

      On the contrary, failing a sea change in public opinion prompted by his cynical abuse of power, it most certainly will.

      Then again, political graveyards reek with the corpses of those whose epitaphs all read as a testament to their fatal hubris in taking voters for granted. 

      Though nothing at this point suggests that will be Horgan’s fate, dismissive as so many voters are of such political chicanery, which they have come to accept from those who so abused their trust and elected office.

      Bravo, John. You will surely sleep soundly tonight, confident as you are that all that really matters in the end is holding more power for another four years.

      I know the allure well. 

      I understand firsthand how readily our malleable “principles” can be twisted in our own minds and bent out of shape as justifiable nefarious action in furtherance of “the greater good”.

      You might well be right, Dear John, that most voters’ reaction to your unconscionable act is not unlike some political columnists’ “you would’ve done it too” moralizing to the opposition parties. And to the likes of me.

      It’s the NDP’s main defence thus far on social media.

      Oh well, they shrug, any premier or party in his shoes would have probably done the same thing.

      As if that is even remotely self-evident or true—which it is not—as was most recently demonstrated by—horror of horrors!—former B.C. premier Christy Clark’s refusal to take that similar opportunistic bait, back in 2011. 

      That was one of the few choices she got right.

      So what, the jaded partisans say, Horgan’s only done something that any scumbag might, and “that’s politics.” 

      As if that cynical acceptance of the unacceptable is somehow sufficient justification to diminish the inherent harm in Horgan’s even more cynical conduct. Which it is not.

      This isn’t after all, a game, as it is so often reduced to being by political junkies. 

      Two wrongs never make a right.

      Especially when they inadvertently put people’s lives at risk, make a sham of the law and solemn commitments, and subvert democracy—all of which is core to what Horgan has chosen to do for his own perceived advantage.

      However much he tries to convince us and himself that his motives are pure, the stink of opportunism will forever hang over his tragic reign of error.

      In your heart, Premier Capitalist, as in most of ours, you know what you really are: a duplicitous politician no better than your predecessor, disguised as something nobler. 

      You’re the guy you swore even to yourself you would never become: a self-centered scoundrel, who sold us all short at the most inopportune moment in B.C. history. 

      Indirectly aided and abetted by B.C.’s ever obliging Good Doctor Henry.

      Congratulations, John. You’ve out-sullied the worst of your hated forerunners with an abuse of office that stands to forever define you as a bully of the first order: the anything-but-Green Hulk who kicked us all when we were down.

      Who the polls suggest will indeed probably be rewarded for doing that, whenever the dust settles on this election. 

      Which we learned today (September 22) from B.C.’s chief electoral officer might not be for at least three weeks or more after the vote, due to the extra time needed to even begin counting hundreds of thousands of additional mail-in ballots due to COVID.

      Had Horgan waited until next fall as the law commands, as the chief electoral officer also confirmed today, he would have been much better equipped, in terms of technology, to expedite the vote count. 

      Which is to say, far from enhancing certainty in today’s most uncertain present circumstances, as Horgan tried to also cite as his “real reason” for a snap election, it will only compound uncertainty about who will form the government for probably two months or more.

      Again, in the middle of the fall flu season, with COVID on the rise and coursing through our classrooms, our economy on the ropes, small businesses going bust, and people dying.

      B.C. deserves better, including from the main person whose exceptional leadership during this time of crisis is most responsible for Horgan’s popularity—and who effectively gave him licence to pull the plug in the hopes of cashing in on his high standing in the polls.

      Dr. Bonnie Henry has refused to criticize the premier's decision to order an election.

      Dr. Henry gave premier a free pass

      B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and B.C. Green Leader Sonia Fursteneau are both taking Horgan at his word that no one but him bears any responsibility for his decision.

      With respect, I beg to differ. 

      He wouldn’t have risked it if either Dr. Bonnie Henry or Health Minister Adrian Dix had found the courage of their conviction to make him think twice. As they both should have, I submit, in the interests of keeping all British Columbians as safe as can be.

      Fact is, Horgan would not have dared go to the polls now if either of them had voiced even the faintest concern that a snap election is the last thing we need in fighting a surging virus that is infecting and killing more British Columbians by the day.

      As Bonnie Henry has confirmed, Horgan did not even so much as ask for her advice—and she “wouldn’t have expected him to”.

      Perhaps because she had already has much as given him the green light to go to the polls, in laying the groundwork for that eventuality by assuring us all in so many ways that an election can be held “safely”.

      But seriously? He opted to drop the writ without even asking B.C.’s top doc whether that would prudent from a health perspective?

      And she has no problem with that? Don’t worry, Henry, assures us, she is confident that no one’s health will be jeopardized as a result.

      That from the person who just today rationalized that it was supposedly too unsafe for even a handful of reporters to be allowed to physically attend her news conference in a press theatre. Which is comparable in size to the White House press theatre that was Ground Zero for Trump’s daily pressers for many months.


      And yet, at the same time, Henry defended Dix’s decision to invite masked, safely distanced reporters to attend his news conference in person.

      Apparently, she has no concerns about schoolchildren being crammed into buses or seated side-by-side in classrooms, 30 or more at a time. Without masks. Even if they have sore throats or runny noses. Or even if someone in their midst has been diagnosed with COVID.

      Apparently, Henry has no fundamentally problematic concerns about how schools will be used (albeit with more cleaning) as polling sites in the midst of a pandemic in which B.C. has just gained the distinction of having the highest per capita COVID levels in Canada.

      If even one student, teacher or support worker contracts that virus because of the added exposure risks that flow from that entirely avoidable compounding challenge, it will be on Henry’s head as much as Horgan’s.

      If even one person is hospitalized or fatally struck by the virus as a result of her and Dix’s stoic silence in the face of a pending avoidable election, it will be at least partly on those individuals who have otherwise done so much to keep us safe.

      And not for one moment do I believe it’s totally “safe” to go to the polls at this time, notwithstanding the Herculean efforts from B.C.’s chief electoral officer, who now faces the unenviable task of managing this election as COVID rampages to new levels in British Columbia. 

      With nary a peep from Henry or the slightest conjecture from her in response to those who had hoped she would have at least sent some public signal that Horgan would be wise to give her team another year to prepare for an election, as the law specifies.

      Let me stress, none of that fair criticism of Henry can even remotely justify the disgusting actions of those who we learned today have so grossly targeted her in unconscionable fashion, even with death threats.

      That’s appalling. 

      Whatever her minor failings may be in anyone’s eyes in managing this health crisis, we should all be eternally grateful for Henry’s remarkable devotion, dedication, and leadership in seeing us all through this dark hour with unequalled skill, compassion, and professionalism.

      In no way are my criticisms intended to encourage anyone to engage in any deplorable social activity that goes beyond fair comment, least of all, in ways that no one should ever wish upon someone as deservedly and near-universally beloved as Bonnie Henry.

      I get it, she is plainly trying very hard to do her level best in an impossibly difficult and unprecedented situation, which I also very much appreciate. 
      But it doesn’t mean she’s perfect, nor is that something that she pretends to be, and in any democracy we should always feel free to critique even our most widely respected health experts, which these days is bordering on heresy.
      B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau has expressed disgust over the NDP's decision to go the polls in violation of a confidence and supply agreement with her caucus.

      NDP message: Cooperation is for losers 

      Back to Premier Capitalist—the undemocratic socialist who wished this mess upon us.

      It is truly tragic how partisan politics and the thirst for power tends to debase those “shining beacons” of public hope—like Horgan held himself out as being.

      Time after time, voters get suckered into believing those new leaders may be better than they cynically expect, only to be let down whenever political opportunity comes knocking.

      Truth hurts as reality bites. 

      Yet never enough to stop partisans from attacking the likes of me as partisan enemies, by dint of their past or present party flags.

      The fact that I have been so openly supporting the NDP and/or Greens through the last two provincial elections, in harsh rejection of the Clark-Coleman-Wilkinson B.C. Liberals is immaterial to them. 

      The enemy of my enemy is only my “friend” as long as they don’t dare to speak truth to their power, or stand in the way of their partisan political objectives.

      To which, I say, get a grip, find your moral compass, and wise up.

      “Progressives” are no less immune from selling themselves out for power than those they love to criticize in their equally deluded conviction that their dishonest means justifies their partisan ends.

      Through Horgan’s unethical and self-serving act to capitalize on B.C.’s current miseries in the worst possible way for purely partisan advantage, Horgan and the NDP are proving themselves fundamentally unworthy of public trust.

      They are subverting democracy by taking advantage of the opposition parties’ disorganization and weaknesses. Which are largely a by-product of their commendable efforts to work cooperatively with the NDP, to help all British Columbians weather this COVID crisis.

      Horgan and his NDP partners in crime are sending a clarion message that cross-partisan cooperation is a political fool’s folly, even in the face of a global pandemic.

      They are essentially tearing up the set election date law that Horgan swore he would abide by, which exists to assure all B.C. voters that he would not abuse his power and office by calling a snap election prior to the third Saturday in October one year’s hence.

      He amended that law to extend his government’s term from next spring to next fall, and all parties supported that change. 

      Now, he essentially wants to rip it up and hold himself above it, solely because the opinion polls suggest he will win this early election in a cakewalk.

      This is one of the great casualties of Horgan’s abuse of law: that reform, which B.C. was first in Canada to adopt, is now toast for all intents and purposes. Gone. 

      No one can ever again rely on the NDP—or probably any other party—to honour the letter and spirit of that law that has served B.C. so well since 2002.

      Horgan and his minions are also smirking at our naïvety for actually believing that they were somehow more honourable and noble than the Christy Clark government they rightly displaced, courtesy of Andrew Weaver’s Greens.

      Never again, or at least not anytime soon, will any party holding the balance of power in a hung parliament ever be able to truly trust a minority government to keep its word, supposedly negotiated in good faith. A minority NDP government least of all.

      I, for one, would never again fully trust John Horgan, which is something that pains me to say. 

      No pundit has been more complementary, more impressed, or more vocally supportive of his performance as B.C.’s premier than I have—me, a former diehard B.C. Liberal, who had no qualms about putting his faith in that NDP champion for a new way of doing politics.

      For the most part, he delivered on that promise, now rendered to a bad joke on the likes of me.

      Moreover, by their cynical and deeply offensive betrayal of public trust, he and his entire team have shown that they are first and foremost the party of bad faith bargaining and social contract-shredding.

      Organized labour should especially hang its head in shame in turning a blind eye to that flagrant abuse of power for its own sake.

      It won’t, of course. As usual, it will rally its troops to serve the larger cause and “long-term game” that its partisan stalwarts will be campaigning for Horgan to deliver if and when his dirty deed is rewarded with a strong vote of public confidence.

      Meanwhile, we will all now muddle through this undemocratic shit-show.

      It will oblige millions of voters to risk their health and even their lives by shuffling dutifully off to the polls, as B.C.’s COVID per capita caseloads soar to the worst in Canada.

      This, from the “working people’s party” that is at the same time appealing to us all to do everything in our power to keep COVID at bay as far as possible.

      This, from the “straight shooter” premier, who we should all now know is just one more ace crooked pool player—a con man who is not above taking us for all we’re worth if he sees the opportunity to cash in on our gullibility.

      What’s a voter to do if they are as offended as I am by Horgan’s vile, opportunistic power play?

      Many of you will probably rationalize that “it’s just politics”, before you hold your nose and vote for the NDP. 

      I understand that, as Horgan does. Indeed, he is banking upon that cynical sentiment that we have mostly come to accept goes with the turf in politics, to ride your broken trust to another term in power.

      Will you change your vote in protest of his actions, to punish him and his party by voting for one of the other available alternatives?

      Probably not. 

      As I have repeatedly argued on these pages, in most other respects, the Horgan administration has governed our province well. 

      And the alternatives are, at this point, hardly persuasive.

      Hell, the B.C. Liberals haven’t done much at all under Andrew Wilkinson’s tenure as leader to earn voters’ trust or support. 

      Sonia Furstenau’s Invisible Shrinking Greens won’t likely be able to even field a full slate of remotely qualified candidates. 

      Without that, will she even qualify for participation in a televised leaders’ debate? Who knows? Though I suspect that both she and Wilkinson will outperform expectations, if given that chance to shine.

      How depressing.

      Before this election I never truly understood how anyone could abstain from voting as an act of personal protest.

      This time, I might just do that, given that as things stand, I can’t in good conscience cast my vote for any party or candidate. 

      Maybe that will change during this unwanted campaign. But today, I am just disgusted and disillusioned at Horgan’s fall from grace.

      Like many voters, who had trusted him and his party to act in the best interests of all British Columbians, I am democratically dispirited, sad, and mad as hell. 

      Vote for you or your party, John? 

      In the heat of this moment, only hours removed from your election announcement, I think not.

      You simply do not deserve to be rewarded for putting our entire province at risk by abusing your authority in an unforgivable act of callous political opportunism.

      Martyn Brown was former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell’s long-serving chief of staff, the top strategic adviser to three provincial party leaders, and a former deputy minister of tourism, trade, and investment. He also served as the B.C. Liberals' public campaign director in 2001, 2005, and 2009, and in addition to his other extensive campaign experience, he was the principal author of four election platforms. Contact him via email at