Home Government of BC BC Legislative Assembly Two new MLAs sworn in at BC Legislature

Two new MLAs sworn in at BC Legislature

eby, horgan, parmar, phillip, legislature
Swearing-in ceremony for new MLAs Ravi Parmar and Joan Phillip, with Premier David Eby (and former premier John Horgan in the audience:), July 28, 2023. [livestream]

Friday July 28, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC [Last updated 12:15 pm on July 29, 2023]

Editorial analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Today recently elected MLAs Joan Phillip (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant) and Ravi Parmar (Langford-Juan de Fuca) were sworn in at a ceremony at the BC Legislature.

As Premier David Eby addressed the assembled crowd about new MLA Joan Phillip — a long-time Indigenous leader, he said that the Legislative swearing-in ceremony with now Indigenous blessings and drumming, was “a return to tradition, a recognition of the land we are on”.

ravi parmar, joan phillip, david eby
New MLAs Ravi Parmar and Joan Phillip with Premier David Eby, at the swearing-in ceremony on July 28, 2023. [livestream]

Likely no one was surprised that former premier John Horgan was in attendance in the audience. He was not part of the formal proceedings but was the obvious ‘elephant in the room’ as the orchestrator of much of what unfolded publicly today. He was busy with his cell phone taking photos like a regular spectator and beaming from ear to ear at seeing his protege rise to ‘fill his shoes’ as MLA.

SD62 contingent:

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SD62 Belmont Zone by-election set for October 14, 2023.

Also attending in the nearly full house in the legislative assembly were several movers and shakers from the Langford community and Sooke School District 62 including the Seatons (Lanny Seaton formerly long-time of Langford council and Dianna Seaton, formerly a long-time SD62 trustee), SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson, new SD62 Board Chair Amanda Dowhy. [Note: A by-election in SD62 is underway to replace Ravi Parmar, heading to a voting date of October 14, 2023]

SD62 trustee and Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps, and T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes addressed the crowd about new MLA Parmar, obviously hoping to work with the new MLA in his new capacity based on connections in the west shore of south Vancouver Island.

Sooke School District 62 (SD62) delivers public education to voters in Langford, Colwood, Highlands, Metchosin, Sooke and Juan de Fuca — obviously an area where Parmar in his new role as MLA hopes to build on his established connections.

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Assembled crowd in the BC Legislative Assembly after the swearing-in of two new MLAs, July 28, 2023. [livestream]

Many from the Parmar campaign team were also in the house, including Ed May (of the BC NDP caucus) and Sue Stroud (from Parmar’s local campaign team). Old-timers from the Horgan years were in the gallery including Hans Frederiksen from the bedrock of the Langford footprint (both Horgan and municipal) as well as Shannon Russell (Langford-based political administrative supporter who also worked in Horgan’s constituency office and later in this office when he was premier), and some Sooke locals (like Moonfist) who seem to have lately jumped onto the political ride.

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Former Juan de Fuca area MLA Rick Kasper was in attendance; Kasper was also a multi-term District of Sooke councillor. Current District of Sooke Councillor Dana Lajeunesse attended.

First nations blessing:

To give a blessing — First Nations Elder Shirley Alphonse was introduced as a T’Sou-ke elder but she has reminded on several occasions that she is of the Cowichan tribes.

shirley alphonse, mitzi dean
First Nations Elder Shirley Alphonse was accompanied at the podium by Mitzi Dean, MLA who is Minister of Children and Family Development, July 28, 2023. [livestream]

Alphonse was assisted at the podium by Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin), who is the Minister of Children and Family Development (MCFD).

With Dean alongside a prominent First Nations elder at today’s swearing-in was the Premier’s and a First Nations tacit statement of approval for Dean who has been getting a lot of heat to resign over MCFD handling of Indigenous families.

The two new MLAs were ushered in with First Nations drumming. Blessings by Indigenous elders has become common place since Horgan first became premier. Alphonse has been a long-time advisor to Horgan, helping to spiritually embed him with the land.

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Grand Chief Stewart Phillip at the BC Legislature, July 28, 2023. [livestream]

Away on vacation:

The summer timing of the swearing in saw many MLAs not in the province’s capital as they were back in their constituencies including on the mainland.

Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming is reportedly out of the country. Agriculture Minister posted later on Twitter that she watched online.

Humour and less so:

There were some humorous moments — where Phillip’s husband Stewart Phillip says he is now ‘Mr Joan Phillip’. And some somber moments when the long-time Indigenous leader himself said he “feels the worst is yet to come” regarding the environmental conditions of the planet — he referred to hotter temperatures, flooding and fires and particularly urban fires as landscaping dries out.

Similarly sobering, Chief Planes said he feels “we are in a big process of change but we don’t know what those changes are”.

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T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes at the BC Legislature on July 28, 2023. [livestream]

Premier Eby said the day was celebratory but also with reminders of how much is left to do. He claimed that the parting words of former MLA Melanie Mark were “still ringing” in the legislative assembly (she resigned after the years of pressure she felt around being Indigenous in a colonial system).

Eby said that both the newly-elected MLAs had worked every day in their communities and “that’s what was recognized at the ballot box”. But there was clearly also the multi-decade NDP ground-game that securely ushered them into office.

Strong NDP crowd:

While today’s swearing-in was in “the people’s house” it was very much populated by an NDP in-crowd including many long-time supporters of Horgan’s team from the west shore. More of an in-house party than a state event. It was one of those obvious moments about how the mechanics of politics works.

The one-hour formal event was followed by a reception outside the chamber and then a media session in the Rose Garden.

Legislative assembly refilled:

The BC Legislative Assembly currently has 87 MLAs, with two vacancies now filled by Parmar and Phillip. More physical desks/seats have been added this summer, in advance of the 2024 election in which the number of MLAs will be increased by six to 93.


===== RELATED:

Ready, set… SD62 prepares to launch trustee by-election for October 14 (July 21, 2023)

Ravi Parmar to be sworn in as MLA on July 28 (July 12, 2023)

Parmar presently holds two seats in the west shore (July 2, 2023)

Parmar picks up the Horgan torch in Langford-Juan de Fuca (June 24, 2023)

Eby calling by-election shortly, Parmar expects tight race in Langford-Juan de Fuca (May 25, 2023)

Parmar officially announces Langford-Juan de Fuca MLA candidacy (April 12, 2023)

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mary p brooke, headshot, july 2023
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke,

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering politics of the west shore since 2008 and more broadly about south Vancouver Island and BC since 2014.

News insights through a socioeconomic lens are written with an attentive progressive audience in mind. In this day and age of politicians expecting journalism to be a process of “comforting the comfortable”, Island Social Trends does not fall into that trap. We write truthful news with a positive attitude about change for the better in society and the economy.

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