A new political era has begun in British Columbia, as the new BC Premier John Horgan and his BC NDP minority government are officially sworn in.
Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, the Queen’s representative in BC, swore in Horgan and his cabinet at Government House in Victoria on Tuesday.
The full cabinet is as follows:
This is the first gender balanced cabinet in British Columbian history, with 10 women named to cabinet and one named minister of state.
And as Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Melanie Mark becomes the first First Nations woman ever appointed to BC cabinet.
Former BC NDP leader Adrian Dix becomes Minister of Health.
Notably, Horgan has also hired Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs to serve as his new Chief of Staff, prompting a byelection in the city.
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) July 18, 2017
In a statement, Horgan said his new government would work to improve the lives of all British Columbians.
“Our government will offer families relief from high costs and fees, strengthen services like health care and education, and create good jobs and economic opportunity across BC,” said Horgan.
“We will put people at the heart of everything we do. And we’ll work hard to deliver on our commitments to British Columbians.”
The BC Green Party, led by Andrew Weaver, has agreed to support the BC NDP minority government, under terms set out in a published agreement.
In a statement issued as the swearing ceremony began, Weaver congratulated BC Premier Horgan and his new cabinet.
“This minority government is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do politics differently in British Columbia,” said Weaver.
“We have an historic opportunity to put partisan politics aside and work together across party lines to advance good public policy that is in the best interests of British Columbians.”
This is the first time the BC NDP has held power in more than a decade; the BC Liberals ran the province for 16 years, first under Gordon Campbell and then Christy Clark.
“For far too long, the B.C. Legislature has been mired in a combative, hyper-partisan status quo,” said Weaver.
“The new government’s challenge will be to not just talk about doing things differently, but to actually put the good of British Columbians ahead of political calculation.”
The swearing in comes almost three weeks after Guichon asked Horgan to try to form a new provincial government, after Clark lost a vote of confidence.
And this latest twist in the political saga comes almost two months after the extremely close BC provincial election, which left BC with a hung parliament.
The BC Liberals won 43 seats, the BC NDP 41, and the BC Greens 3.
In the aftermath, the BC Greens negotiated with both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP to see if they could work with a party to support a minority government.
Ultimately, BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver announced they had agreed to support a BC NDP minority government with Horgan.
Meanwhile, Clark came under pressure to step down, after the final BC Election count confirmed no party had won the election.
However, after the BC NDP and BC Greens announced their agreement, Clark came out fighting, saying she would not be resigning from her post as BC Premier.
Instead, she said, she would be recalling the legislature to test the confidence of the house, by introducing a throne speech to see if it would pass.
The speech, which laid out the BC Liberals’ plans for government, borrowed heavily from what had been in the BC NDP and BC Green campaign platforms.
The legislature then adjourned until the following, when a variety of bills were introduced by the BC Liberals and voted down blind by the BC NDP and BC Greens.
And then, finally, came the traditional period of debate on the throne speech over four days.
Much of that debate was filled with long speeches by the BC Liberals, punctuated by criticism from the BC NDP and BC Greens and attempts to get to a vote.
Meanwhile, the BC Liberals were accused of delaying democracy, while the BC NDP and BC Greens were criticized for voting down BC Liberal bills sight unseen.
On Thursday, 29 June, Clark finally lost the confidence of the BC Legislature when faced with a non-confidence vote introduced by Horgan.
According to convention, this meant she and the BC Liberals could not form a government, and Clark resigned, paving the way for Horgan to take his turn.
After being sworn in, Horgan now has to recall the legislature and attempt to pass his own throne speech or budget to see if he has the confidence of the house.
If that passes with the support of the BC Greens, then Horgan will continue as the next BC premier and the BC NDP minority government will remain in power.
If not, another provincial election will be on the cards.
In the meantime, Clark’s failure in the legislature may have left her position as leader of the BC Liberals precarious.
She has said she would stay on as Opposition leader if that’s what her caucus wanted. That remains to be seen.