Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Premier John Horgan announces intention to step down from office, calls on NDP to begin process of leadership search

"I'm looking forward to just being me again, talking to people not as Premier of British Columbia but just John, a guy who stopped by to make friends. So I'm looking forward to that"  -- The final observations from Premier John Horgan at his announcement today of plans to step down from the post in the fall

The next British Columbia provincial election will be contested by at least two new leaders, that after John Horgan provided for a significant political headline today in British Columbia. 

In a thirty minute media session this afternoon, Mr. Horgan announced his intention to step down as Premier by the fall.

Still high in Cross Canada Polling despite a few political stumbles in recent week, the Premier charted his personal course ahead to quieter times and a chance to just be John, a guy that wants to make friends as his farewell to top office in the province.

The announcement came after an NDP Caucus retreat, with the Premier observing on his recent health issues and that as he was asking those around the room what their plans were for the next two years, he needed to assess that decision making himself.

"At the halfway point in a mandate, which we are at coming up to this fall it's traditional for a leader to ask his colleagues what their plans are will they be running in the next election.

Many of you will know, in fact I'm pretty sure that it's not a secret that I have gone through my second bout with cancer and successfully went through thirty five radiation treatments and I am currently cancer free. My health is good, but my energy flags as the day goes by.

So before I could ask my colleagues what their plans were for the coming two years and beyond I had to ask myself that"

In his outline for reporters, he noted of a recent period of time on the west coast of his riding with his wife Ellie that determined his next path. 

From that time watching the marine life off of Otter Point, came the decision that Mr. Horgan was not able to make a full commitment ahead.

"We came to the conclusion that I'm not able to make another six year commitment to this job and as a result I've asked Aaron Sumexheltza the President of the BC NDP to work with our governing body the provincial council and the executive to select a date in the fall for a leadership convention.

This has been the thrill of my life to be the Premier of British Columbia, and I'll be the Premier of British Columbia tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that." 

The Premier noted that he made his announcement today to put the endless speculation on his fate behind the government, that so they can get back to the issues facing British Columbians.

Towards those issues the Premier pointed towards the ongoing Health Care issues, with a vow to have the Federal government live up to its promises of the past, as well as the current concerns of British Columbians in other areas.

While he did not outline a timeline, Mr. Horgan will be staying on as the MLA for Langford-Juan-de-Fuca through the fall, perhaps as far as to the next election. 

His full announcement and the Question session which followed can be review from the video below:

Selecting his replacement won't be an easy process for the party, as he prepares to step away from political life, Mr. Horgan has set a high bar for those of the ranks that will follow, having taken the party from the ranks of the Opposition to that of Government.

Since the time of a minority government with assistance of the Green Party, the Premier has led a government that put much focus on reconciliation themes and changes to relationships with the Indigenous peoples of the province. 

His first term delivered good governance and strong economic conditions for the province , the party quick to answer many of the challenges, particularly those through COVID. 

The second term, a majority government that came in the midst of the pandemic, floods, heat domes and wildfires returned he and his party to the government side; sidelined by illness and his cancer treatments, he was off the political radar for a period during some of those challenging times. 

It was in that time that the government has however seen some of its most choppy waters since taking office, with some stumbles on large issues, decisions that have given the opposition parties some new energy marking some of the political narrative to date.

In the end, the Premier decided to set his own timeline for his political future and that of his personal one for himself, his wife and family.

"It was a difficult, difficult decision. I do love the work and I love my colleagues, it's very rare, I've been a student of history as many of you know, and it's rare for a political leader to have the opportunity to say I think it's time for someone else. Without it being a less comfortable moment, so the timing was right, my health circumstances  dictated it ..." 

His statement that followed up his media session can be reviewed here.

Those with an interest in the top job and an instant promotion to Premier, will have the summer to contemplate their political future and what they have to offer the party and the province.

More notes on the Legislature can be explored through our archive page here.

Further provincial themes can be explore from our political blog D'Arcy McGee.

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