Thursday November 26, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated at 7:35 pm on November 26, 2020 | reposted 11:10 am November 28, 2020]
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
A new complexion is now upon the BC NDP cabinet. Premier John Horgan today appointed 24 of his 56 MLAs (he tops up the NDP majority to 57), half of them women, to lead BC deeper into and through the pandemic to the other side.
The one-hour afternoon virtual event was livestreamed on social media from the Farquhar Auditorium at the University of Victoria, presided over by Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin and Premier John Horgan.
Several MLAs were returned to cabinet from their stay in 2017-2020, some of them in new roles. And some first-time MLAs landed in cabinet.
Some appointments and re-appointments were not a surprise. Other directions were interesting and evolutionary extensions from the previous cabinet and government session. But there wasn’t a need, apparently, to bring in anything extraordinarily new. All the bases are covered, some of them more intricately than before (as in mandate letters requiring the resorting of responsibilities within ministries).
There is no one distinct portfolio named around the COVID-19 pandemic, as that health emergency reaches deep into every ministry, indeed every aspect of life and economy in BC.
Who got what:
The new cabinet includes 20 ministers and four ministers of state. The cabinet will be supported in its work by 13 parliamentary secretaries, with portfolios including Rural Development, Anti-Racism, and Technology and Innovation.
Top ministry posts went to Selina Robinson who is now Minister of Finance, David Eby who stays on as Attorney General but also now has the Ministry of Housing under his wing, and brand new MLA Josie Osborne (former mayor of Tofino) as the Minister of Municipal Affairs. This is an interesting trio, as Robinson was the minister of the previously joint Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Re-elected to her second term as an MLA last month, now in cabinet is Mitzi Dean in a key role as Minister of Children and Family Development. She had a long-time career in that sector prior to becoming an MLA in 2017. Dean’s previous role as Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity (not a cabinet position) is now in the hands of brand new MLA Grace Lore (Victoria-Beacon Hill, which is former Finance Minister Carole James’ old riding).
A few media questions were asked of the premier today around the shift in who heads up Education, with that Ministry now under Jennifer Whiteside (with a strong background in health care and negotiation). There has been some debate as to whether the complex pandemic scenario for schools was handled well enough, though today Horgan said he was very pleased with how Rob Fleming handled that tough challenge.
Fleming held the Education post for the entire phase of the 2017-2020 first-term Horgan NDP minority government (and the education critic role before that, during 2013-2017). With an academic background in economic development, he is now the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI). The previous MOTI minister (Claire Trevena) did not seek re-election this fall.
It might be seen as significant that the transportation file (a big budget item and impacts in all directions of society and economy, with similar threads of complexity as in the education file) stays with an island MLA. Now only one-quarter of cabinet (six of 24 MLAs) are from Vancouver Island ridings.
As for newly-newly elected Murray Rankin (Oak Bay-Gordon Head) landing in cabinet as Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Horgan said today that Rankin “knows the law better than anyone in this legislature”. Rankin was the federal Member of Parliament for Victoria until last year, and in the interim was consulting to the BC government on indigenous affairs.
Given her lifeblood enthusiasm for food sustainability, it is no surprise that Lana Popham (Saanich South) was returned to the agriculture file, this time with the Ministry including the ocean and waterways side of things as Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
One of the threads of that new portfolio is for Popham to work in collaboration with former MP and new MLA Nathan Cullen (now Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resource Operations) and George Heyman (returning to the environment file as Minister of Environment, Climate Change Strategy and also as Minister Responsible for TransLink) to take the component parts of forests, lands, natural resources and rural development and “disaggregate that” and move things “to areas where they can be better utilized”. An important subset of that is the lofty and poignant economic and cultural goal of “saving salmon for this generation and future generations”, as Horgan put it today. This also dovetails with the work of Katrine Conroy as Minister of Forests, Land, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development.
Second-term MLA Melanie Mark is now heading up the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, shifting from the post-secondary focus. Anne Kang (formerly Minister of Citizens’ Services) is now Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. Citizens’ Services is now in the hands of Lisa Beare, who was previously the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister.
Jennifer Rice retains her post as Parliamentary Secretary – Emergency Preparedness. The new Minister of State for Infrastructure is Bowinn Ma, who has a background in engineering. First-time MLA Brenda Bailey, an entrepreneur, is now Parliamentary Secretary – Technology and Innovation.
The campaign promise of $500 to each individual and $1,000 to each family (income-adjusted for higher income levels) as a COVID-economy boost here at year-end will be issued late in December or early January, it was confirmed by the premier again today.
“The Ministry of Finance is already working on the logistics.” Legislation must be passed before the funds can be issued; the legislative assembly convenes starting December 7.
Points of inspiration:
In his address today after all cabinet members were sworn in and had given their oaths, Horgan started out by stating the obvious: “The pandemic has turned the lives of British Columbians upside down.”
“We have come a long way together, but we have much further to go. This skilled, diverse team is ready to continue our fight against COVID-19 and build an economic recovery that includes everyone,” the Premier said today in the livestreamed media event.
Horgan draws inspiration from his former Finance Minister and long-time political friend Carole James. This evening he posted on Twitter: “I’m lucky that the sage advice of Carole James won’t be far away. She’s agreed to continue serving British Columbians for $1 as a Special Advisor, so her experience will continue to guide our work keeping people safe and building a recovery for everyone.”
Here is the full list of cabinet members and parliamentary secretaries (marked with *), which includes 20 ministers and four ministers of state, supported by 13 parliamentary secretaries:
- Premier: John Horgan
- Attorney General (and Minister Responsible For Housing): David Eby
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Anti-Racism Initiatives: Rachna Singh
- Advanced Education and Skills Training: Anne Kang
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Skills Training: Andrew Mercier
- Agriculture, Food and Fisheries: Lana Popham
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Fisheries and Aquaculture: Fin Donnelly
- Citizens’ Services: Lisa Beare
- Children and Family Development: Mitzi Dean
- * Minister of State for Child Care: Katrina Chen
- Education: Jennifer Whiteside
- Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (and Minister Responsible for the Consular Corps of British Columbia): Bruce Ralston
- Environment and Climate Change Strategy (and Minister Responsible for Translink): George Heyman
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Environment: Kelly Greene
- Finance: Selina Robinson
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Gender Equity: Grace Lore
- Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development: Katrine Conroy
- * Minister of State for Lands, Natural Resource Operations: Nathan Cullen
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Rural Development: Roly Russell
- Health (and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs): Adrian Dix
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Seniors Services and Long Term Care: Mable Elmore
- Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation: Murray Rankin
- Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation: Ravi Kahlon
- * Minister of State for Trade: George Chow
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Technology and Innovation: Brenda Bailey
- Labour: Harry Bains
- * Parliamentary Secretary – New Economy: Adam Walker
- Mental Health and Addictions: Sheila Malcolmson
- Municipal Affairs: Josie Osborne
- Public Safety and Solicitor General: Mike Farnworth
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Emergency Preparedness: Jennifer Rice
- Social Development and Poverty Reduction: Nicholas Simons
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Community Development and Non-Profits: Niki Sharma
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Accessibility: Dan Coulter
- Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport: Melanie Mark
- * Parliamentary Secretary – Arts and Film: Bob D’Eith
- Transportation and Infrastructure: Rob Fleming
- * Minister of State for Infrastructure: Bowinn Ma