Friday November 18, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 1 pm]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
Today David Eby was sworn in as BC’s 37th premier while surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and community members from throughout British Columbia.
The ceremony was held at the Musqueam Community Centre in Eby’s home riding of Vancouver-Point Grey. Apparently there was a scheduling problem at Government House in Victoria for today’s event (though the cabinet swearing-in will be at Government House on December 7).
After several introductions that took the schedule far beyond the scheduled timing, Eby addressed the room (and broader audience via livestream).
The official swearing-in was conducted by Lt Gov Janet Austin.
In his speech at the podium, Eby identified what he called “massive challenges” as learned through the pandemic, including: access to health care (including having a family doctor), housing attainability (mentioning young adults and seniors), crime, and dealing with global economic headwinds.
He aims to provide a “strong and secure economy for all British Columbians”.
He emphasized the importance of trust in working with others in resolving challenges.
Without mentioning the BC Liberal opposition, BC’s new Premier Eby said: “We’ve seen what it’s like when we’ve seen government disconnected from people and priorities of the people.” He identified two major failings of the previous government, those being “rampant speculation in the housing market and unaddressed issues in money laundering”.
He stated that BC is in “a strong financial position”.
The premier promised swift action on the most pressing issues facing British Columbians: fixing the housing crisis, making communities safer, strengthening health care and acting on climate change. All work will be done in close partnership with Indigenous Peoples, as well as federal and municipal governments.
Credits announced today:
Premier Eby’s first action as premier is two new cost-of-living credits for BC residents and businesses to help people with bills, groceries or transportation costs:
- a one-time $100 cost-of-living credit for BC Hydro customers (described as equivalent to one month of electricity charges for most owners of single-family homes); and
- a new BC Affordability Credit to help low- and middle-income earners with rising costs (the new BC Affordability Credit will provide as much as an additional $164 per adult, and $41 per child, or as much as $410 for a family with two children earning $43,051, with a sliding scale of credits for families earning as much as $150,051).
First Nation emphasis:
The ceremony was hosted by the Musqueam Indian Band, the first-ever swearing in hosted by a First Nation in British Columbia. Premier Eby and invited guests were greeted by traditional drumming and a welcome from Chief Wayne Sparrow, who hailed the event as an important symbol of a shared vision of reconciliation and strengthening government-to-government relationships.
“Musqueam is pleased to host this historic event in our community. David Eby is the first BC premier sworn in at a First Nation – an encouraging signal that he is dedicated to reconciliation and authentic partnerships with First Nations,” said Chief Sparrow (yəχʷyaχʷələq).
“Musqueam wants reconciliation to be more than a buzzword. We want action that creates substantial, positive change for Musqueam and all Indigenous people in BC. We will be looking to Premier Eby to provide the leadership needed to truly implement Indigenous rights and create a prosperous future for every British Columbian.”
Thanking John Horgan:
Outgoing Premier John Horgan addressed the crowd with his usual verve and optimism. He noted that it’s a milestone in BC politics that an NDP premier is passing the torch to another NDP premier (building on the five years that Horgan himself has served), and saying that the late (and first) BC NDP Premier Dave Barrett would be pretty amazed and pleased.
Horgan mentioned first meeting Eby 15 years ago. Eby was first elected nine years ago in 2013 as the MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey, serving as the Opposition critic for housing and gaming policy.
“When we formed government, I assigned David Eby to tackle some of our toughest problems. He put out the dumpster fire at ICBC and ended an era of money laundering a previous government ignored. He is a roll-up-your-sleeves guy who will work hard to improve the lives of British Columbians,” said Horgan.
Now in history as BC’s 36th Premier, Horgan called his time in office “a tremendous ride”.
Horgan presently continues on as the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca in the west shore area of south Vancouver Island. He has stepped back to spend more time with family and in the community following his experience with cancer in the past year.
Eby leading up to today:
After the BC NDP formed government in the summer of 2017, Eby was appointed attorney general and minister responsible for ICBC, gaming and liquor. In 2020, Eby was appointed as the minister responsible for housing.
Eby lives in Vancouver with his wife, Dr. Cailey Lynch, a practising family doctor, and their children, Ezra and Iva.
He learned a lot about community and earning trust when working as a lawyer for disadvantaged people in the downtown east side.
Others in the room:
The ceremony today was emceed by long-time NDPer Joy MacPhail who is presently chair of the BC Ferries Board of Directors, and a former cabinet minister. She thanked outgoing Premier Horgan: “We are grateful for your steadfast leadership”, and described Eby as “considerate, measured and fearless” and as ‘someone you want on your side’. MacPhail called today “a brand new chapter for British Columbia”.
Vancouver Point Grey resident community advocate and 2020 Order of B.C. recipient Shirley Chan delivered some eloquent remarks about Eby’s work and commitment in the community.
A local Vancouver high school student, Ayaan Jeraj, represented an up and coming force in NDP politics, saying his generation will face many challenges – from climate change to housing affordability.
First Nations leaders outlined the importance of being one community, and about their past family leadership. They presented gifts to Eby, Horgan, Austin and others.