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 last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

(Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
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 Thursday.
COVID-19 outbreak at LNG Canada Project site

14 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time

A man has been arrested after a Nov. 11 break and enter at the Sandspit Airport, Queen Charlotte RCMP said in a media release on. Nov 17. (Black Press Media files)
Man arrested after Nov. 11 break and enter at local airport

Queen Charlotte RCMP investigate recent spate of break and enters

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor recieves prestigeous conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Most Read