Premier-designate Horgan secures minority government: What's next?
British Columbia's new premier-designate is eager to get started at the legislature, promising to move quickly on a number of policies.
NDP leader John Horgan is set to become the province's next premier after a confidence vote saw the BC Liberals sent back to the Opposition benches for the first time in 16 years. Hours after the motion he put forward passed in a vote of 44 to 42, Horgan spoke to reporters outside Government House, following a meeting with the lieutenant-governor.
Announcing Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon had just asked him to attempt to form a minority government propped up by the Green caucus, Horgan said he planned to start work the next day.
"Tomorrow I'll begin putting together a government that will make British Columbia better," he said Thursday night, as supporters gathered on the lawn cheered and applauded.
And on Friday he told reporters he'd made good on the promise, beginning his workday with a review of briefing documents.
Horgan said he hopes to recall the legislature as soon as possible, and start swearing-in ceremonies for cabinet ministers possibly as early as next week. The agreement between the Greens and the NDP suggested the legislature would be recalled within one month of the new government being sworn in.
"We will have a speaker when the House returns," he said.
The NDP leader has not yet said which items will be at the top of his list when he takes over, but mentioned his government will focus ensuring that the social services people count on are there when they need them.
"I look forward to working harder than I ever have before to make sure that this great province continues to grow, and that the prosperity that we all want to see for ourselves, we can make sure that we can share that prosperity with others," he said Thursday.
Speaking after Horgan's announcement, Premier Christy Clark congratulated Horgan before revealing that she'd asked the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the legislature and call an election.
She said she didn't know why the lieutenant-governor made the decision she did, but that she accepted the results.
Prior to the vote, Clark made a last-ditch attempt to sway MLAs to her side. She called for support of her throne speech – which reversed many Liberal policies, adopting NDP-Green positions instead.
"It's a sincere acknowledgement that we didn't get it all right. It is an expression of renewed priorities based on what voters told us," she said. But she was unable to maintain power.
Political priorities of the NDP-Green agreement
Some of the policies mentioned in Clark's throne speech mimicked those outlined in an agreement between the NDP and the Green party, signed a short time after the election 53 days ago.
While Horgan is still finalizing what his first priorities will be, highlights of the NDP-Green pact include:
- Ending road tolls
- Replacing the Pattullo Bridge and stopping construction on the Massey bridge
- Reviewing Site C
- Improving transit
- Investing in childcare and early childhood education
- Eliminating medical service premiums (MSP)
- Increasing the $30-per-tonne carbon tax by $5 per tonne, per year
- Reducing the cost of essential prescription drugs
- Establishing a commission tasked with "establishing a pathway" to a minimum wage of $15 an hour or higher
- Investing in home care for seniors and others in need of assistance
- Appointing a minister of mental health and addictions, and develop an immediate response to the fentanyl crisis
- Implementing a strategy to reduce post-secondary education costs
- Issuing a referendum on proportional representation, planned for the fall of 2018
- Imposing a ban on corporate and union donations and contributions from non-residents of British Columbia to provincial parties
Read more highlights, and the full agreement, here.
Though the government has yet to take over, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said Friday he's "thrilled to see the level of collaboration we've seen with the BC NDP."
Trudeau, Notley welcome Horgan despite pipeline stance
The premier-designate is being welcomed by the prime minister and Alberta premier, despite his campaign promise to fight back against the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline.
The $7.4-billion project received federal approval late last year, but Horgan and Weaver both pledged during their campaigns to fight the decision. The pipeline is one of the parties' priorities in their agreement signed post-election, with both leaders pledging to use every tool they have to fight it.
Justin Trudeau said last month that he stands by the expansion despite B.C.'s changing political climate, and previously suggested that the NDP's position was "wrong." But on Friday, Trudeau issued a statement saying he looks forward to working closely with Horgan.
"By coming together in a spirit of co-operation, I am confident that we can grow the industries and sectors at the heart of the province's prosperity, while promoting clean growth and innovation and investing in public transit and green infrastructure," Trudeau said.
He also thanked Clark for her work as premier and her contributions to B.C. and the country as a whole.
Rachel Notley provided similar sentiments in a statement, thanking Clark and offering congratulations to Horgan.
Last month, the Alberta leader told reporters at a news conference that she didn't think it made much of a difference who the B.C. premier is; the expansion has federal approval and will go ahead.
She said the province couldn't grow its economy solely on escalating real estate costs, and that B.C.'s Interior needs the jobs the pipeline will provide.
In her statement on Friday, she said she said she looks forward to working with Horgan to advance their shared interests.
"Alberta and British Columbia share more than a border," Notley said.
"We are bound together by deep personal and economic ties and a commitment to building strong communities with good jobs, strong public services and a clean environment. I know that premier-designate Horgan is a champion for these values."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan and John Woodward, and The Canadian Press
Thanks to @christyclarkbc for your work as Premier and public service contributions to the province & people of British Columbia.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 30, 2017