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

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

(File Photo)
Crash causes delays on Coquihalla southbound, travel advisory issued

A vehicle incident between Merrit and Hope has caused major delays heading south

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

(Pxhere)
Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent must come first and last for B.C. industrial projects

UN declaration seen as end to a history of horror stories

Most Read