David Eby will be sworn in as premier on Nov. 18 — leaving just one week in the fall sitting in which to introduce legislation.
Eby, 46, said Wednesday that he hoped to be sworn in as B.C. premier prior to the end of the fall sitting of government so he can introduce legislation and “deliver on some key priority areas.”
But on Thursday, the premier’s office said the scheduled Nov. 7 to 11 break of the fall legislative session would be extended another week leading up to the swearing-in, with Eby meeting the assembly as premier the week of Nov. 21. The current session is scheduled to conclude Nov. 24.
The opposition Liberals and Greens both accused the premier-designate of delaying debate.
“David Eby said he was going to ‘hit the ground running’ but instead, he’s hitting the brakes on the valuable time we could spend working to solve the major concerns of British Columbians,” Liberal house leader Todd Stone said in a statement.
Eby could choose to be in the legislative chamber today, he said. “How can people have any faith in his big promises to tackle crime, health care, housing and more when he’s not even willing to carry out the rest of the fall legislative session?”
Green Party house leader Adam Olsen, who represents Saanich North and the Islands, called the wait “unacceptable.”
“There is no reason why there should be a monthlong delay in transition,” Olsen said in a statement. “He has been absent from the house and now he’s cutting a week of session, it is increasingly looking like premier-designate David Eby does not want to be asked questions or be held accountable.”
Olsen pointed out that Rishi Sunak was sworn in within three days to become prime minister of the United Kingdom, while Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, who won a leadership vote on Oct. 6, was sworn in five days later.
Eby became premier-designate last week after being acclaimed as leader of the New Democrats, about four months after Premier John Horgan announced his impending retirement for health reasons.
On Wednesday, Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin asked Eby to form government after accepting Horgan’s resignation, which will be effective Nov. 18 — the same day Eby will be sworn in at Government House.
A statement Thursday from the Office of the Premier said further details about the ceremony will be released soon.
He introduced a 100-day plan last week committing to “significantly” expanding affordable housing, creating safer communities, redirecting fossil-fuel subsidies to clean energy projects and improving access to health care.
Eby said the 100 days start the day he’s sworn in and he wants to introduce some key pieces of legislation related to actions in that time.
Horgan said Eby will bring experience and a strong approach to pressing B.C. issues, including health care, affordability and housing.
“The objective for the next government, for David Eby, will be to continue to make progress on these files and I’m excited that David’s understanding of the housing issue is going to be a real asset,” Horgan said in an interview.
Eby named his senior staff and transition team this week. He said he couldn’t say when a possible cabinet shuffle would occur but he’s being briefed by the public service on major issues facing the province, the state of its economy and how the government could respond.
Eby ended up as the only candidate for the province’s top job after the NDP disqualified Anjali Appadurai for what it said were breaches of party membership sign-up guidelines.
— With a file from The Canadian Press