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Televised B.C. leaders debate could carry bigger punch than in past: analyst

Last Updated Oct 13, 2020 at 11:57 am PDT

(From left) BC NDP Leader John Horgan, BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, and BC Liberal Leader Leader Andrew Wilkinson (The Canadian Press/Chad Hipolito, B.C. Government)
Summary

The televised provincial election leaders debate on Tuesday could carry a bigger punch for voters than in previous years

Many voters are casting ballots earlier due to COVID-19, says political analyst

Debate could be the only chance the leaders have to win over undecided voters: analyst

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The televised provincial election leaders debate on Tuesday could carry a bigger punch for voters than in previous years, according to a political analyst.

Anna Lilly with FleishmanHillard Highroad, a public relations firm, said the pandemic is changing when many people cast their ballots, so the debate could shape their decisions.

And with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots in play and a full week of advanced polling starting Thursday, the debate could be the leaders’ last pitch to woo voters before election day, Oct. 24.

“People — because they are going to be voting in advance — are going to be wanting to make their decision pretty soon,” Lilly said.

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“They won’t be waiting, for the most part, until Oct. 24. So I think this week is going to be really pivotal.”

The debate between NDP Leader John Horgan, Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, and Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau will be moderated by the Angus Reid Institute’s Shachi Kurl.

A recent survey by FleishmanHillard Highroad of what’s influencing voters during the campaign found COVID-19 and economic recovery plans are key.

“The debate has the potential, in this environment, where people are going to be watching, ‘Hey, we’re all kind of stuck at home watching TV most nights anyway,’ right,” Lilly said. “So the debate actually does have the potential to be quite a factor in this election.”

Advance voting starts on Thursday.

To date, about 646,000 mail-in ballots have been requested, according to Elections BC.

You can watch the debate live here starting at 6:30 p.m.