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

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Terrace RCMP are searching for Kenton David Fast, who is unlawfully at large. (Terrace RCMP Photo)
Terrace RCMP searching for man unlawfully at large

Kenton David Fast was last seen in Terrace on Dec. 1, 2020

Traffic controllers Hayley Stevens (left) and Hector Blackwater (right) have been recognized by drivers for their friendly waves, smiles and dance moves while working south of Terrace. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Skeena Voices | Positivity is just part of being a flagger

Hector Blackwater and Hayley Stevens have been drawing attention on social media

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross has been named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy for the BC Liberals. (Peter Versteege photo)
Skeena MLA Ellis Ross named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Previously, Ross was the critic for LNG, Resource Opportunities, and Responsible Development

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
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Business groups have been advocating for years that local approvals for construction in B.C. are too long and restricted, and that B.C.’s outdates sales tax deter business investment. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents worried about COVID-19 deficit, business survey finds

Respondents support faster local approvals, value added tax

Most Read