B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, October 25, 2020. Horgan lost seven ministers who didn’t seek re-election as he looks at putting together a new cabinet following the NDP’s majority election win last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, October 25, 2020. Horgan lost seven ministers who didn’t seek re-election as he looks at putting together a new cabinet following the NDP’s majority election win last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Horgan’s cabinet has many openings for newcomers and veterans after election victory

Horgan’s former cabinet had 23 members, including himself, when the election was called in September

Premier John Horgan has several spots to fill in his cabinet after losing seven ministers who didn’t run again but winning a New Democrat majority in British Columbia gives him advantages when handing out jobs, political watchers say.

But political consultant Bill Tieleman says Horgan has lots of new and familiar faces from his backbenches to choose from as he puts together his inner team.

A new cabinet is among his early priorities, Horgan told a recent postelection news conference.

Horgan’s job in appointing members of cabinet may not be as challenging as it was following the 2017 election when he was working in a minority government situation, Tieleman said in a recent interview.

“Contrary to what some people think, this is a much easier job than he had in 2017 when he formed the government, because you couldn’t afford to have anyone really unhappy with you when they were left out of cabinet,” he said.

With a comfortable majority, Horgan has plenty of possible cabinet candidates to consider, said Tieleman, who worked in former premier Glen Clark’s NDP government as press secretary.

“This time, if you make a few people unhappy or disappointed, they’ll have to get over it,” he said. “Over half the caucus will not be in the cabinet and that’s just a given.”

There are 87 members in the B.C. legislature, with the NDP standing at 53 seats, the Liberals 27 and the Greens three seats after the initial vote count. Four ridings were too close to call on Oct. 24 and the results of the mail-in ballots aren’t expected until the middle of this month.

Horgan’s former cabinet had 23 members, including himself, when the election was called in September.

Seven former cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, including Carole James, who served as finance minister. Others who didn’t run again held high-profile portfolios including forests, energy, poverty reduction, transportation, Indigenous relations, and mental health and addictions.

Judy Darcy, Horgan’s former minister of mental health and addictions, said the premier has “an embarrassment of riches” to choose from, but declined to name anyone who might be tabbed for a cabinet job.

Darcy said one of Horgan’s biggest jobs is finding a role for everybody, inside and outside of cabinet.

“We all know that John Horgan and his leadership is rooted in team sports,” she said. “He sees his job as not having to put the ball in the net. He is more than willing to share the spotlight.”

Darcy said she believes Horgan will have a more difficult job appointing his new cabinet than he did after 2017 because he must find roles for the many viable candidates who don’t get an appointment.

READ MORE: Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Among the newly elected New Democrats are three former members of Parliament: Nathan Cullen, Fin Donnelly and Murray Rankin.

Tieleman said he expects the former MP’s to be considered for cabinet but so will re-elected legislature members Bowinn Ma and Sheila Malcolmson.

“Obviously, Nathan Cullen, Murray Rankin and Fin Donnelly have loads of experience from the federal Parliament and would easily make able cabinet ministers, all three of them,” he said.

Cullen, who ran in the Stikine riding in northwest B.C., was at the centre of controversy during the campaign after he was heard making negative comments about a rival Liberal candidate, who is Indigenous. Cullen apologized but some Indigenous groups issued statements of concern about Cullen.

Tieleman said B.C.’s Indigenous relations and reconciliation portfolio will be one of the most critical in the government.

“That will be one of the most challenging positions to fill because of the many requirements it has,” he said. “Clearly, whoever becomes that minister has to have a history of good relations with First Nations’ organizations in the province already. I don’t think you want to start from scratch on something like that. It’s a very complex portfolio.”

Former Indigenous relations minister Scott Fraser was well-known and widely regarded as the NDP’s Opposition critic before he became the minister.

Horgan will also have to consider regional issues, competency, gender, diversity and past history when making his cabinet choices, Tieleman said.

Darcy said her former post at mental health and addictions requires a certain kind of person.

“You need somebody with very deep compassion,” she said. “You need somebody who is very determined. You need somebody who is willing to push the envelope. It’s a tough file.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC NDPBC politicsJohn Horgan

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Overlooking Ucluelet’s Main Street shopping district, Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce executive director Laurie Filgiano cozies up with ‘Snowy’, the beloved decorating contest trophy. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet’s Midnight Madness shopping spree gets a stiff shot of madness this weekend

“As a community, I think we will come out of this stronger.”

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Westerly file photo)
Leaders from Tofino-Ucluelet region urge tourists to stay away for two weeks

The West Coast is pausing its winter tourist season temporarily due to rising COVID-19 numbers

This large Spruce was one of several trees that came crashing down around CARE’s animal shelter during Nov. 17’s windstorm. (CARE Network photo)
Funding and fosters needed after storm destroys fencing at Tofino-Ucluelet animal shelter

The damage forced an evacuation of the facility, which was sheltering five animals at the time.

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read