Ready to retire? B.C. Premier John Horgan's comments spark speculation
June 28 update: The premier is expected to address the rumours at a news conference. Monitor Tuesday's coverage for breaking news updates.
There is speculation John Horgan could be preparing to announce his retirement, following comments the B.C. premier made in a recent radio interview.
CBC Victoria host Gregor Craigie asked Horgan about his future Friday, to which the premier replied: "I have a cabinet retreat in Vancouver and we'll be plotting and planning and preparing for the next two years, so I'll have more to say about that as we come out of those meetings."
Those meetings are taking place Monday and Tuesday.
Horgan's comments come about seven weeks after he told CTV News reporter Robert Buffam he hasn't ruled out running for a third time.
"I never anticipated that I would be where I am today – no one's more surprised than me and my Grade 8 teacher at Reynolds High School. Yet here I am. As long as I can keep making a valuable difference, I'm going to keep doing it," Horgan said on May 5.
For political scientist and SFU professor Stewart Prest, the change in messaging is telling.
"The fact that Mr. Horgan was saying such an open-ended response to that kind of question is a pretty strong indication he is thinking seriously about moving on and retiring," Prest told CTV News in an interview.
There are other clues as well. Last week, the premier took full responsibility for the Royal B.C. Museum redevelopment rollout, which prompted significant backlash for the government.
David Black, associate professor in communications and culture with Royal Roads University, said while that decision may have been embarrassing, it also removes a potential obstacle for a new leader.
"The premier's kind of climb down with respect to the museum decision was indicative of a leader with a lot of political capital to burn," Black added.
While the NDP government faces significant challenges around affordability and the province's family doctor shortage, if Horgan retires, political observers say it's his move to make – with little indication his hand would be forced.
Horgan remains one of the most popular premiers in the country, and his party leads the opposition Liberals in recent polls.
Horgan's recent second bout with cancer may be the deciding factor. In May, Horgan also said he might have returned to work sooner than was optimal, noting he was tired.
Black called it the "X factor."
"As someone who has a close relative who's suffering through a cancer diagnosis, I know that it changes your perspective on life and where you go," he added. "As in comedy, so too in politics, timing is everything."
If Horgan were to decide to call it quits now, it would give the party ample time for a leadership campaign, and for his successor to get acquainted with the public.
Politicians usually keep their cards close to their chest, so until an announcement is official, anything could happen.