Voters in Newfoundland and Labrador learned today they will be heading to the polls on Feb. 13. They're not the first to be asked to choose their next government in the middle of a global pandemic. A handful of other Canadian provinces ran election campaigns in 2020. Here's a quick look at how the pandemic-era campaigns played out:
When Premier Scott Moe told voters they would be heading to the polls on Oct. 27, he sought to secure his place as head of Canada's current longest-serving government. The campaign pitted Moe's Saskatchewan Party against the New Democrats headed by medical doctor Ryan Meili, whose campaign broadsides focused largely on the provincial response to the pandemic. They didn't sway voters, who cast in-person ballots wearing masks and mailed in more than 185,000 votes. Voters ultimately returned the Saskatchewan Party to power with a fourth consecutive majority mandate.
Premier John Horgan called a snap election a year before residents were slated to cast their ballots, triggering a campaign distinguished by virtual town halls, physically distanced car rallies and opposition cries that the election shouldn't have been taking place at all. But when Oct. 24 rolled around, it quickly became clear that Horgan's gamble paid off. New Democrats found out on election night they secured a majority mandate, but didn't learn the extent of their victory until the province processed hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots. The results, announced on Nov. 8, gave the NDP 57 of the legislature's 87 seats.
Progressive Conservative Premier Blaine Higgs became the first provincial leader to roll the dice on an election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign, which unfolded in a region largely spared from the ravages of the virus, still adhered to widespread public health guidance and shied away from mass rallies and glad-handing. Higgs ultimately led his party to a majority win on Sept. 14.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021.
The Canadian Press