Premier John Horgan heads into his first cabinet meeting last Wednesday with top priorities of moving ahead with elimination of bridge tolls in Metro Vancouver and increasing income assistance rates by $100 a month.
At a news conference at Government House after being sworn in the day before along with a 22-member NDP cabinet, Horgan said he must then prepare for a visit to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa and then a trip to Washington D.C. The U.S. visit is to make good on a campaign pledge to personally assist in negotiations for a new softwood lumber trade agreement.
In a speech to supporters in a packed ballroom at Government House, Horgan repeatedly referred to the situation facing B.C. residents either evacuated or on alert to get out of the way of forest fires. He said he wants to get to work immediately “so the people in the Interior don’t have to go home to a burned-out community with no jobs.”
The government change is an immediate test for Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, who takes over as forests minister in the midst of the fire situation. Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James received the largest ovation at the ceremony when she was announced as deputy premier and finance minister.
Horgan takes over as premier with the support of the three-member B.C. Green Party caucus marks the first change in governenment in 16 years. The cabinet has 20 ministers, including New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy heading a new ministry of mental health and addictions.
Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall is appointed energy, mines and petroleum resources minister, with the task of resisting progress on the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion project from Alberta to its port in Burnaby.
Horgan said cabinet will look at regulatory options from the ministries that issue permits. Vancouver-Fairview MLA George Heyman, a former executive director of Sierra Club B.C., takes over as environment minister.
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver attended the ceremony and congratulated Horgan.
“This minority government is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do politics differently in British Columbia,” Weaver said. “We have an historic opportunity to put partisan politics aside and work together across party lines to advance good public policy that is in the best interests of British Columbians.”
Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman, moving from deputy premier to opposition MLA, wasn’t in a cooperative mood
“This #GreeNDP government was not recognized by the majority of B.C. and will pander to minority interests at the expense of the majority,” Coleman said on Twitter as the swearing-in ceremony was about to get underway.
Here is the complete list of new NDP cabinet minister appointments:
Advanced Education, Skills &Training – Melanie Mark
Agriculture – Lana Popham
Attorney General – David Eby
Children &Family Development – Katrine Conroy
Minister of State for Child Care – Katrina Chen
Citizens’ Services – Jinny Sims
Education – Rob Fleming
Energy, Mines &Petroleum Resources – Michelle Mungall
Environment &Climate Change Strategy – George Heyman
Finance and Deputy Premier – Carole James
Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, &Rural Development – Doug Donaldson
Health – Adrian Dix
Indigenous Relations &Reconciliation – Scott Fraser
Jobs, Trade, &Technology – Bruce Ralston
Minister of State for Trade – George Chow
Labour – Harry Bains
Mental Health &Addictions – Judy Darcy
Municipal Affairs &Housing – Selina Robinson
Public Safety &Solicitor General – Mike Farnworth
Social Development &Poverty Reduction – Shane Simpson
Tourism, Arts &Culture – Lisa Beare
Transportation &Infrastructure – Claire Trevena
Parliamentary secretaries:Emergency Preparedness – Jennifer Rice
Poverty Reduction – Mable Elmore
Seniors – Anne Kang
Sport and Multiculturalism – Ravi Kahlon
Technology – Rick Glumac
Translink – Bowinn Ma