Sunday November 22, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
Analysis by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
The two re-elected BC Green candidates in last months’ BC provincial election — Sonia Furnsteau and Adam Olsen — will be sworn in as MLAs on Monday November 23. The taking of the oath of office will be livestreamed at 1:30 pm.
On Tuesday November 24 the massive NDP majority MLAs will be sworn in — 57 of them, with Premier John Horgan at their helm. Also livestreamed, with Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin leading the day. Cabinet ministers will be sworn in on Thursday November 26.
“With the results of the judicial recount completed, we are disappointed to not add one more seat to the legislature,” said BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau this Sunday morning in an email. “We are very proud of Jeremy Valeriote’s campaign and cannot wait to grow Green support over the next four years,” she wrote. Valeriote lost by 60 votes (in the recount) to re-elected now three-time BC Liberal MLA Jordan Sturdy.
The Greens did have three seats in the BC Legislative Assembly until December 2019 when their party leader Andrew Weaver (who had quit as leader) switched to sitting as an independent.
Without Weaver’s agreement with BC NDP Premier John Horgan back in 2017, the NDP would not have survived three-plus years at the helm of a minority government. Without Weaver in the picture, the whole thing appears to have soured or seemed to politically risky to Horgan and the people-first NDP reorientation of the BC government that he guided to progressive prominence.
It was due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and Horgan’s vision of how British Columbians shall now live through this period in history — that was the primary driver for Horgan calling a snap election on September 21, 2020. But he felt BC’s best chance was to not have government tinkering with politics (even though the system of official opposition is key to democracy), but that a majority government was better at this time.
Horgan’s sense of urgency about this government (in a majority position) being the best (most ‘for the people’) to guide this province through a tumultuous time was what ignited his gamble that was the 42nd Provincial General Election (called one year ahead of schedule). Being the spiritual man that he is, he no doubt felt he had the wind of the people at his back.
Nonetheless, somehow the BC Greens have somehow become indelible and their influence will be felt in the mix.
We are living now in a time of economic redistribution, social change and political adaptation. This comes after the new policy directions of 2017-2020 under Horgan’s first government footprint, abut now as a result of the COVID pandemic takes on a whole new intensity, urgency and long-range view. There is no turning back to the old ways. The new ‘normal’ is being created as we live it.
BC Liberals diminished:
The resignation of re-elected BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson from that leadership post on October 26 shortly after the election (followed by his announcement November 21 that he would now leave immediately), is visceral evidence of a forthright shift in political direction in BC. There will be no turning back from the NDP direction now for four more years, and many of their policies will have implications for decades.
On Friday November 27 the 28 elected/re-elected BC Liberals will be sworn in as MLAs. The new interim leader will be chosen tomorrow, November 23.
Wilkinson said this weekend that the BC Liberal party has reflection and rebuilding to do.
Final Election Results:
The oath of allegiance is a constitutional requirement that allows Members to officially take their place in the Chamber and to vote in proceedings of the Legislative Assembly.
The new landscape:
If there was ever a week to watch political shift up close in BC, this is it.
The legislative assembly gets will begin with a Throne Speech on December 7, it was announced by Horgan recently.
A full 40 percent of the 57 NDP MLAs are new. While new blood in political influence is always needed, having 23 new MLAs learning the ropes could provide an undercurrent of slower momentum, probably for the first six months or so.
Horgan’s new NDP cabinet without former Finance Minister Carole James will be a new landscape for the Premier and the full NDP party; James was in many ways the architect of the resilient economy that BC had in place when the pandemic hit. James did not run again in this 2020 election for personal health reasons.
It was already leaked by Horgan last week that Mike Farnworth (former Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General) will shift to being Speaker in the legislative assembly. That still leaves him with a hefty 56-seat majority out of 87 seats, unlike the dilemma he found himself in after the May 2017 election when he was eyeball to eyeball with 41 MLAs across the aisle from the BC Liberals with 41. Hence that need to team up with the Greens in the now infamous CASA (Confidence and Supply Agreement) of June 2017.
There’s been word that David Eby will be assigned to something other than Attorney General, which will get him off the politically-limiting ICBC file.
Several long-time MLAs are no longer in the room (having chosen to not run again in 2020), including Claire Trevena (who handled the massive Transportation and Infrastructure ministry file 2017-2020) and Judy Darcy (who was the first-ever Minister of Mental Health and Addictions).
Re-elected Adrian Dix (Vancouver-Kingsway) has served as Health Minister even during this interim period between the election date and now. Given his go-forward action around COVID in recent weeks, he is likely to continue in that role, with a mission to complete with the pandemic and health care writ large.
Re-elected Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) served as BC’s first-ever Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity in the 2017-2020 NDP government. She may find herself in a more prominent role going forward from this week.
Re-elected Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake) will very likely be back in the Education Minister’s seat, with an enormous task ahead of him in 2021 and beyond to keep the education system on an even keel through all the rigors of the pandemic that are impacting students, teachers, staff and families.