UPDATE 5:25 p.m.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth came to the defence of Premier Horgan’s holiday on Monday.
During a news conference, Farnworth reiterated that the premier is being briefed daily and ministries impacted by the wildfire situation are operating at full capacity.
“We have held a number of press conferences and press availabilities over the last number of weeks, and so we make sure the premier is apprised of everything. He is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing,” Farnworth.
Farnworth batted away another question that suggested Horgan’s holiday showed a lack of solidarity with British Columbians in crisis.
“Our premier has been in complete solidarity with all the people of British Columbia, whether they have been affected by wildfires or if they are fighting the wildfires on the ground,” Farnworth said.
ORIGINAL 2:50 p.m.
As homes burn and thousands of people are forced from their homes in the BC Interior, Premier John Horgan is on holiday.
The premier has been noticeably absent from the provincial government’s communications and news conferences on the wildfire situation recently, prompting questions.
Today the Premier’s Office sent a statement to the media explaining his absence.
“While spending time with his family away from the office, Premier Horgan has been briefed daily — sometimes several times a day — on important issues and crisis facing British Columbia. He will be back on Thursday.”
The statement said Premier Horgan has been “providing direction” to ministers on public service “in order to keep people safe.”
He was also briefed Monday by Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth on the on the wildfire activity and evacuations in the region.
Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield, who is also running for leadership of the BC Liberal party, blasted the premier on Twitter for his absence.
“‘Nero fiddled while Rome burned.’ Where is Horgan?” she tweeted. “In the absence of communication, anxiety grows. True leaders are present in times of crisis. This is a crisis.”
Premier Horgan did, however, address the wildfires on Twitter on Sunday.
It’s been a long day and an even longer night for the many communities in BC’s interior on evacuation order or alert from wildfires. Thank you to all the emergency personnel, local govts & First Nations working tirelessly to keep people safe under incredibly tough circumstances.— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) August 16, 2021