Home Government Government of BC BC Premier Horgan having surgery, appoints Mike Farnworth as deputy premier

BC Premier Horgan having surgery, appoints Mike Farnworth as deputy premier

Thursday October 28, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [Update Sunday October 31, 2021 – reportedly surgery on October 29 went well | Nov 2 – The Premier is working remotely from home]

News insights by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends


Around 11:15 am this morning, Premier John Horgan announced in a live media conference from outside his office that he will be having surgery tomorrow October 29, regarding a growth found in his throat (which was discovered after Horgan sought medical advice about a lump in his neck).

After tomorrow’s surgery, a treatment will be determined, he said.

In light of all that, today Horgan announced that “out of an abundance of caution” that he has appointed Mike Farnworth — who is Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General and “the most experienced member of the legislature”, as Deputy Premier. Farnworth is already House Leader and well respected by MLAs across party lines, as noted recently in the legislature. Farnworth was first elected in 1991.

mike farnworth
On October 28, 2021 BC Public Safety Minister & Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has been appointed BC Deputy Premier [file photo July 20, 2021]

Praise for health care:

The local MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca, Horgan says news like this doesn’t stay unknown for long in “a small town” (a region that includes Langford and Sooke, as well as the SD62 school district), so he’s made it outfront public on his own terms.

The Premier says he’s been told by doctors that he won’t be able to speak for a while after the surgery. He’s been having tests over the past few weeks which “revealed a growth in my throat which requires surgery tomorrow”, John Horgan said today. He added that any further treatment will be determined after the surgery.

The surgery will be done in Victoria. Horgan noted that people are fortunate to have health care in BC that is accessible nearby to where they live.

Horgan praised the BC health care system, calling it “a jewel”, in that it is available to people when they need it.

john horgan, health care
Premier John Horgan thanked well-wishers and promoted the importance of a strong health care system in BC, on Twitter October 28, 2021.

Don’t put it off:

“I have been here before and I am not alone. People all around the province receive news like this every day,” Horgan posted on Twitter today. He encourages people to not wait if they are concerned about something, to see a doctor or visit an urgent and primary care centre.

Horgan is already a cancer survivor, a few years back (bladder cancer in 2008), and has said a few times over the years that he takes no day for granted, including that the experience had changed his approach to handling conflict and politics… essentially one day at a time but with an unfettered interface with what needs to be done. That life approach was likely also further forged by the passing of his mother in recent years; he mentions her frequently in references to how he was raised, including to “do his level best” whenever he can.

horgan, letter, health
Letter from Premier John Horgan to British Columbians, as posted on Twitter October 28, 2021.

Bonded with Sooke and Langford:

Horgan tends to have a lilt and life to his political approach, clearly drawing enthusiasm and pride from his Irish roots, relying in spirit on the mythical ‘luck o’ the Irish’.

He draws great refreshment from any time he can spend in the forested seaside Sooke area within his riding — generally not through sport fishing or other rugged activities of the region, but just to breathe the fresh air there and absorb the energy of the place. He has been known, over the years, to visit Sooke quietly without media attention, to help out with community charities. He recently made a quiet unpublicized visit in September to the construction site of two new schools in Langford’s Westhills neighbourhood.

Knox Centre opening, April 26 2019
Ceremonial ribbon-cutting on April 26, 2019 to officially open the Knox Centre affordable housing building on Church Road in Sooke. Clowning it up in the back row with a ‘joyful noise’ were (from left): Premier John Horgan and Knox Presbyterian Reverend Gordon Kouwenberg. Front row (from left): T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes, Knox Vision Society Chair Eleanor Shambrook, District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, and Knox Vision Society vice-chair MJ Whitemarsh. [West Shore Voice News photo by Mary P Brooke]
T'Sou-ke Nation, Gordon Planes, Shirley Alphonse, Premier John Horgan
Anointing one of the oak trees planted in memory of Brenda Parkinson (from left): T’Sou-ke Elder Shirley Alphonse, T’Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes, and BC Premier John Horgan (MLA for the region) on August 6, 2019 at John Phillips Memorial Park in Sooke. [West Shore Voice News / Mary Brooke]

Horgan has been welcomed by the First Nations of the region, forging in particular a bond with the spiritual elder of the T’Sou-ke Nation, Shirley Alphonse, who keeps an eye open for the well-being of the region, and T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes who has taken part in the growing economic development of the Sooke region.

Taking care of business:

As leader of the Council of the Confederation (i.e. premiers of all the Canadian provinces and territories), Premier John Horgan was about to embark on an uphill battle with the federal government to restore the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) funding for health care to 35%.

Health care funding has been heavily impacted in all provinces and territories during the long COVID-19 pandemic (which was officially declared in BC on March 17, 2020).

Horgan is 62 years of age. He has been MLA for his geographically large and economically diverse riding since 2005. He was elected leader of the party in 2013 and brought his NDP party to lead a coalition progressive government in 2017 with support of the Greens. His many years in Opposition (pre-2013) he often refers to as hard, especially as he had an eye on leading government.

Horgan returned his government to power in October 2020 with a majority of seats, in a snap election that he called one year ahead of the scheduled timeline for elections in BC. He was politically criticized for calling a snap election during a pandemic, but with his majority since then he has been able to transform the landscape of BC’s social safety net and range of economic and environmental initiatives (including a bold new CleanBC plan toward 2030 announced just this week).

premier, john horgan
Premier John Horgan was clearly pleased on June 29, 2021 to announce re-opening of the province under Step 3 of the Restart plan.

Today Horgan said he hadn’t appointed a Deputy Premier in his executive council (cabinet) since the retirement of long-time MLA Carole James (she did not run for re-election in 2020 due to health reasons).

John Horgan, Carole James
Premier John Horgan will continue to receive advice from former Finance Minister Carole James, going forward from 2020. [Nov 2020]

Keeping it light:

Today John Horgan in his announcement joked that things will be quiet for a while around his home, referencing his wife Ellie who has heard him speaking a lot, at his side throughout his long career in public service and politics.

John and Ellie have lived in Langford for about 30 years and have two grown sons.

Horgan closed his short live media announcement with a departing salutation that is close to his heart as a fan of the Star Trek science fiction series: “Live long and prosper”.

National news:

Of course, Horgan’s health announcement today was carried on live TV news, and made the cut for coverage on the dinner-hour national news. He said he wanted to be out front of the news and make his own statement about his health before it might have become rumour or leaked out to some media and not others.

john horgan, constituency, ad
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premier john horgan, forestry minister, katrine conroy
Premier John Horgan and Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Katrine Conroy, addressed media from the local fire department in Logan Lake, BC on August 27, 2021. [web]
john horgan, vaccination
Premier John Horgan got his second COVID vaccination shot on June 18, 2021, choosing AstraZeneca for the second time. [BC Government photo]
Premier John Horgan, indigenous
Premier John Horgan took part in a ceremony on June 8, 2021 to recognize the truth of the Indian Residential Schools and the finding of 215 bodies of children at a former such institution in Kamloops, BC. [BC Government]
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John Horgan, Rob Fleming, Carole James, school closures, COVID-19
Premier John Horgan with Education Minister Rob Fleming and Finance Minister Carole James address media on March 17, 2020 regarding school closures due to COVID-19. [web]