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

Snowfall warnings Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 for parts of the Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon. (Jennifer Feinberg/The Chilliwack Progress)
Winter storm warnings Thursday for Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon

Snow is expected to become heavier as day progresses with snowfall amounts of up to 30 centimetres

A team with Ann Davis Transition Society takes part in the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser as they walk along Young Road on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
‘Coldest Night’ walk raises nearly $60,000 for new Ann Davis outreach office in Chilliwack

Ann Davis Transition Society thrift shop will be transformed into much needed outreach centre

The University of the Fraser Valley Peace and Reconciliation Centre
UFV students hold online forum on peace and reconciliation

Two online sessions on Feb. 25 include student research

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
EDITORIAL: We shouldn’t have to have a Pink Shirt Day, but we do

‘Children are a product of their environment’

Lucas Frost at the trailhead of Teapot Hill. (Lucas Frost)
Hiking Teapot Hill for organization that helps homeless youth in Chilliwack

Lucas Frost hopes his hiking fundraiser for Cyrus Centre will help get some kids off the street

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Head of internal medicine at Chilliwack General Hospital Dr. Shari Sajjadi talks about the positive feedback hospital staff have received over this last year in the latest YouTube video about COVID-19 created in partnership with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network. (YouTube)
VIDEO: Dr. Shari Sajjadi says a simple ‘thank you’ helps keep up spirits of healthcare workers

‘We are so thankful for the positive feedback we are getting from our patients’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman boards a transit bus through rear doors, in Vancouver, on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
TransLink slow to reveal crucial details about ransomware attack, says union

Union says company took months to admit what info was stolen, including SIN and bank account details

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Most Read