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David Eby will be sworn in as premier at Musqueam Community Centre, not Government House

The community centre, at 6735 Salish Dr., is in the Vancouver-Quilchena riding, which is represented by B.C. Liberal leader Kevin Falcon. Eby is the MLA for the neighbouring riding, Vancouver-Point Grey.
Premier-designate David Eby leaves Government House in Victoria after meeting with Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin on Oct. 26, 2022. Eby will be sworn in as premier on Nov. 18. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

David Eby will be sworn in as premier Nov. 18 at the Musqueam Community Centre, bucking the tradition of incoming premiers being sworn in at Government House. The Musqueam First Nation’s chief said the location is a powerful symbol of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

Eby will take the oath of office at 10 a.m. that day in front of Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin at the community centre on the Musqueam First Nation, which is near the University of B.C. campus.

“I am excited to be taking this important step close to home where my family and the people who have always supported me live,” Eby said Tuesday in a statement. Eby said he’s grateful to Chief Wayne Sparrow, the Musqueam councillors and the Musqueam people for hosting the ceremony in their community.

“Because of their efforts, this event will be a powerful symbol of a shared vision for a province that delivers results for all British Columbians, in close partnership with Indigenous Peoples,” he said.

Sparrow said Eby’s decision to be sworn in at the Musqueam First Nation instead of Government House, which is a symbol of colonialism for many Indigenous people, is an indication he’s serious about taking action to address Indigenous reconciliation. “Actions are more than words with reconciliation,” Sparrow said. “I hope it’s not just a PR move.”

The community centre, located at 6735 Salish Dr. in Vancouver is in the Vancouver-Quilchena riding, which is represented by B.C. Liberal leader Kevin Falcon. Eby, 46, is the MLA for the neighbouring riding, Vancouver-Point Grey.

Eby’s cabinet will be sworn in on Dec. 7 at Government House in Victoria. Incoming premiers are traditionally sworn in at Government House but there have been some cases in the last 30 years when premiers are sworn in elsewhere.

After Premier John Horgan won a majority in the October 2020 election, he and his cabinet were sworn in Nov. 26, 2020 at a University of Victoria’s Farquhar Auditorium which provided more space for social distancing during the pandemic. Many of the cabinet ministers were sworn in virtually as public health orders advised people not to travel.

Glen Clark was sworn in as NDP premier at Collingwood Neighbourhood House in 1996 and his predecessor Mike Harcourt was sworn in at UVic in 1991.

Amanda Campbell, a Government House spokesperson, said Eby’s team “selected another venue as there is a desire to have a larger audience for the swearing-in on that day than could be accommodated at Government House.” The ballroom can accommodate about 350 people but it is unavailable on Nov. 18 because it’s being prepped for a fundraiser on Nov. 19.

Moving the swearing-in ceremony to Vancouver is also an indication Eby will likely conduct more government business from Vancouver to be closer to his family. Eby’s wife Cailey Lynch is a family doctor and they have two kids, eight-year-old Ezra and three-year-old Iva.

B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark — who spent most of her time working out of the Vancouver Cabinet Office at Canada Place — took the oath of office at Government House in Victoria shortly after she announced her cabinet at an event in Vancouver.

Clark represented Vancouver-Point Grey until she was defeated by Eby in the 2013 election, forcing her to seek a seat through a byelection in Westside-Kelowna.