Tuesday June 28, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Contributed comments last updated 12:15 pm June 29, 2022 | Poll results updated July 5 & 7, 2022] Further update – David Eby making an announcement this evening July 19, 2022 (more to come).
Editorial Analysis by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
Island Social Trends poll on who your pick is for next BC NDP Leader (June 28 to July 5, so far): Lana Popham 44%, David Eby 28%, Rob Fleming 9%, Mike Farnworth 6%, and 13% for other. Final results of our 10-day poll on your top pick for the next BC NDP Leader: Lana Popham 42%, David Eby 30%, Rob Fleming 9%, Mike Farnworth 6%, other 12%.
Premier John Horgan today officially announced that he is not going to seek re-election in two years time. His second bout with cancer has taken a toll on him, though he says his energy is presently good.
His first run-in with cancer was last decade — that was bladder cancer. In October 2021 he announced that he’d be going in for radiation treatments for throat cancer, after a lump was discovered. Back on the job in spring 2022, he has no saliva now as a result of radiation treatments.
Married and the father of two grown sons, John Horgan has more time with family to look forward to if there’s a slower career pace.
A stand-apart leader:
Right up front, it’s easy to say that no one can really replace John Horgan’s insights, passion, and over-the-top commitment to the job. He will forever stand apart as singularly good-hearted and right-minded about the needs of the people of BC. He has also masterfully motivated an entire government to try and do their best at every turn.
But someone will need to replace him as leader of the BC NDP Party. It will simply not be the same. But the political analysis is already swirling, so here is our pitch at the predictions.
Horgan has been MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca since 2005, and became premier in 2017 to lead his NDP government through what have turned out to be unprecedented times.
Horgan has frequently made biblical references to ‘locusts’ and ‘floods’, not to mention the task of dealing with new levels of wildfire in BC from as soon as he took office in July 2017. ‘Called to the job’ is a fair statement, if one is mystical about it. He has lived the job on many levels, which no doubt has taken a health toll.
Horgan has arguably moved the dial forward quite a bit for Indigenous interests in BC, not only during his years as Premier but also during his long run up to that role. Step by step, he made friends and progress with First Nations leaders in his riding and beyond.
The recent boondoggle over his government aiming to proceed with a nearly one-billion dollar project to rebuild the Royal BC Museum might show that his judgement has recently been clouded, or that simply the paramount COVID pandemic distraction overshadowed his attention to other matters.
Otherwise, it could be said that Horgan has moved life forward for British Columbians in ways that have had both short-term and long-term impacts. Individuals, families and businesses have benefited across many communities and sectors.
Certainly there will be many lasting legacies, but creating the new Land, Water and Resource Stewardship ministry this year will certainly have far-reaching effects, carving those interests out from under the Forestry Ministry. Also, his careful attention to maintaining the integrity of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) while allowing for vertical farming on that land, may well serve to be a godsend for the food sustainability concerns on Vancouver Island.
On a more ethereal level, history will see that the temperament of politics can be done differently — more people-oriented and more long-range in approach. From the start of his government in mid-July 2017 he told his cabinet and MLAs to work like ‘every day is their last’, so that British Columbians were getting the best bang for their buck out of their new elected government.
Recently Horgan gave the green light on BC backing Vancouver as a host city for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and also the Invictus Winter Games coming to BC in 2025.
Two years run-up to next election:
The next BC provincial election is scheduled for the fall of 2024.
Horgan says it’s time for a leader who can be “focussed on the next two years and beyond”.
Mainstream replacement talk:
The most high-profile name of current cabinet ministers that has been bandied about in the past few years is Attorney General David Eby. Eby has a young family and is undoubtedly the best pick for the AG spot, but would come close to Horgan’s motivational ability both to the public and within the party. Eby has worked hard on the BC casinos money-laundering file, as well as the ICBC ‘dumpster fire’; both of those projects showed his ethical strength for wanting to clean up the financial easy-hand that the BC Liberals had been using during their 16 years in government. British Columbians have been receiving ICBC-related rebates in the last year or two.
In various media moments there has also been indication or mention of Solicitor General Mike Farnworth taking a stab at the top job to lead the party. Farnworth has a more get-down-to-business approach than Horgan but might lack the charm for broad public appeal. He has carried the ‘tough guy’ role well during the COVID-19 pandemic, and lately has taken the emergency preparedness file to a slightly new level after the heat dome deaths of 2021. He was steadfast on the gasoline rationing issue last fall after supply chain disruptions due to flooding that impacts highway travel for trucks. Farnworth was appointed as Deputy Premier when Horgan was off for several weeks in fall 2021 and early 2022.
Today Global News floated the idea that Health Minister Adrian Dix might be the natural up-and-comer to the party leadership job. Dix did steer BC through the COVID-19 pandemic, and was leader before (though under his leadership the NDP lost the 2013 election, arguably for lack of broadest public appeal). Dix tends to get tied up in specifics and does not convey that he sees the larger picture. He’s no doubt kept his eye on the ball for increasing the BC health care system infrastructure, but as of late he’s been criticized for not getting much achieved in the way of there being enough family physicians in BC to serve the full population (over one million people don’t have a family doctor).
Some people have mentioned current Finance Minister Selina Robinson as a possible party leadership pick. She’s good party faithful material but she’d be easy meat up against BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon in the next provincial election.
Agriculture and Food Minister Lana Popham has natural charm and genuine enthusiasm for what the NDP party can do. She has a strong following within the party on south Vancouver Island. Whether she’d want to leave her much-beloved agriculture portfolio and shift into bigger things would be the question there.
Moving steadily up the ranks in Horgan’s cabinet has been Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon He has been deeply immersed in BC’s economic recovery and reaching out globally to establish new markets for BC products like lumber. He has his eye on the ball for filling the projected one million jobs that will emerge over the next 10 years in BC.
A steady Horgan government supporter for the long-haul — and a steady hand at the helm in his ministry work (previously Education) has been Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming. Whether he has the blood thirst for the top job is unclear.
Local Langford-Juan de Fuca spin:
Locally for many years now, there has been competition between John Horgan on the NDP side and City of Langford Mayor Stew Young who supports the BC Liberals. Young has always backed the BC Liberal candidate in Langford-Juan de Fuca (and likely pushed for Langford to be in the riding name for 2018, whereas previously it was simply Juan de Fuca).
Stew Young has been Langford’s mayor for 30 years, about as long as Horgan has lived in Langford (though Horgan found more grassroots political support in the Sooke end of the riding). Young has told media recently that he still hasn’t decided about running for mayor again this fall. Maybe 30 years at one job is long enough. Young is presently on a seven-day trip in Ukraine, building relations with local governments there but likely also putting out feelers for provincial-level business opportunities.
If Young decides to run as MLA, that teeters the current Langford Council profile a bit. His connections and resources would offer strength to the BC Liberals currently led by Kevin Falcon.
There is talk of current SD62 School District Board Chair Ravi Parmar perhaps stepping in to replace Horgan in Langford-Juan de Fuca. Parmar also works in a senior level administrative position in the BC government. Horgan has opened doors for Parmar for years, first and most notably supporting a solid run for Parmar onto the SD62 board. Stew Young has also been grooming Parmar, as the interweaving of Langford municipal and west shore school board interests continues.
“I will stay on as Premier until my successor is chosen,” Horgan said in his statement today.
Still pushing the health-care agenda:
In a news release today Premier Horgan says he looks forward to pushing the federal health-care funding agenda.
He will be chairing the upcoming Council of the Federation meetings with all of Canada’s premiers in Victoria July 11 and 12. Progress on that file would be a feather in Horgan’s political hat.
Getting back to basics:
Horgan also said today that he looks forward to now reconnecting with his Langford-Juan de Fuca neighbours.
This past weekend he enjoyed leisurely attendance at the official opening of the new Community Sport Box in Sooke, handily working a lacrosse stick on the new outdoor floor.
Affordability and people first:
Horgan’s legacy above all else will be his steadfast attention to dealing with issues of affordability and putting the needs of all British Columbians first.
He led the province through the COVID-19 pandemic for two years, handling the non-stop concerns across many ministries. Many new programs were developed and an economic recovery stance was taken.
Climate change agenda:
Under John Horgan’s leadership the BC government has led the way with climate action, and the CleanBC Plan has taken root as a significant program to make strides amidst the climate crisis. Much of that credit goes to Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman.
Here is Premier John Horgan’s full statement (June 28, 2022):
“Over the last couple of days, our cabinet has met to seek solutions to the challenges people face in British Columbia.
“These include the high cost of living and the stresses on primary care. Working to make life better for people is why we are here and that continues to be my focus.
“As we reach the mid-point of our second term, it is clear the tasks ahead of us are enormous and will require a leader focused on the next two years and beyond. A second bout with cancer and dozens of radiation treatments has led me to take stock.
“I am proud to say I’m cancer free. While I have a lot of energy, I must acknowledge this may not be the case two years from now.
“Therefore, I have decided not to run again in the next election.
“Once again, I want to thank the health-care professionals who helped me through this journey. They do incredible work under difficult circumstances.
“I also want to thank the many British Columbians – from every walk of life and from all political persuasions – who offered their best wishes.
“I will stay on as Premier until my successor is chosen. I will continue to do my level best to make politics work for people. This includes pushing the federal government to fund their fair share of health-care costs so we can make our public health-care system work better for everyone.
“I am looking forward to reconnecting with my neighbours as the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.
“Being Premier is not a job I ever expected to have, yet it’s been the honour of my life.
“In the last five years, we’ve accomplished a lot by working together and caring for each other. The work continues.”
Premier Horgan not seeking reelection in 2024 (June 28, 2022)
Premier Horgan attends Sooke Community Sport Box grand opening (June 27, 2022)
Premier Horgan to grads: You are ready to build a better world (June 27, 2022)
Premier Horgan still pitching for Canada Health Transfer increase (April 21, 2022)
Premier Horgan on Canada Day: pandemic, First Nations, heat (July 1, 2021)
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke has followed the politics of John Horgan, MLA right here in his Langford-Juan de Fuca riding since 2007. First as MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), then West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), then fully online starting mid-2020 as Island Social Trends.