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MLA-Minute

Premier's plan to step down complicates B.C. politics

Running to replace Horgan

This past week, B.C.’s premier John Horgan announced he will retire. He plans to stay on until the new leader (of the NDP) is chosen in the fall.

So, do we still have someone leading the province? The good news is, we still have a premier.

While his announcement was not surprising, Horgan is going to be missed. He is a force to be reckoned with. I have nothing but respect for him.

The premier was able to be relatable, yet knowledgeable, and brought together our province on issues that required an incredible amount of unity.

But what now? This is where it gets a bit confusing.

Premier Horgan will remain in power until a new leader is chosen. He has initiated that process, and the B.C. NDP will hold a leadership race this fall. No one has declared their candidacy yet, but having just been through a leadership race myself, I can tell you, leadership campaigns can be very acrimonious.

And this race is high stakes, as whoever wins will (automatically) become the next premier of B.C.

The other aspect of a leadership race in the governing party, is any participant will be asked to step down from his or her ministerial post. That means, if rumoured candidacies are accurate, we could have three or four ministers who would have to step down and others put in their place. That could cause more disruption in the continuity of government and policy.

I have heard from many this week who are concerned about the change in leadership and what could happen during the race. There are many issues in our province right now and we really need a steady hand, with a fully-functioning government, rather than a focus on B.C. NDP politics.

Healthcare is top of mind, with no reprieve in sight. As I spoke with people who stopped by my booth at the recent Canada Day festivities in Kelowna, many are struggling to find a doctor, and it is getting worse.

We have seen the headlines about cancer care operating below full staffing levels, hospitals short-staffed, operating rooms not fully operational or efficient, nursing shortages and x-ray clinics closing. All of this results in longer waits for care, and less healthcare for British Columbians.

What will happen if the (current) health minister is one of the candidates to run (for party leader) and to be the next premier?

The cost of housing also continues to be difficult for many in the Okanagan. Rental rates are high, vacancy rates are low and the cost to purchase a home in the valley is the highest it has been in history.

What the government is doing isn’t working and we need a different plan and a different strategy. What if the housing minister wants to run? Another ministry with an interim leader and no real leadership.

I have only mentioned two ministries. What if there are three or four that find themselves with ministers stepping down?

There are so many pressures facing British Columbians today and we don’t have a margin for error.

Our premier has announced his departure, so change is imminent and that is why the role of the Opposition is so important. Having a fall session, where all MLAs are in Victoria debating the issues, is vital to the work of governing. The best-case scenario is to have a fall session, regardless of the NDP leadership race.

That way, government will be held to account for how its policies are affecting British Columbians, rather than B.C. NDP politics taking the focus away from these important issues.

My question to you:

What do you want government focused on right now?

I would love to hear from you.

Email me at [email protected] or call 250-712-3620.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Renee Merrifield is the BC Liberal MLA for Kelowna - Mission and the Opposition critic for the Environment and Climate Change, as well as Gender, Equity and Inclusion.  She currently serves on the Select Standing Committee for Finance as well.

A long-time resident of Kelowna, Renee started, and continues to lead, many businesses from construction and development to technology. Renee is a compassionate individual who cares about others in the community, believes in giving back and helping those in need through service.

She values your feedback and conversation, and can be reached at [email protected] or 250.712.3620



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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