Ice cream with the premier? Thousands say yes

The air in the main floor of the legislative buildings was unusually steamy Tuesday evening, as thousands of people piled in to meet new Premier John Horgan and his cabinet.

The open house, which also featured free ice cream, was from 5 to 7 p.m., taking place less than two hours after the swearing-in ceremony for the new NDP premier and ministers.

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“It’s great to see the people’s house filled with the people,” Horgan said in his opening remarks, which were met with cheers.

A line stretched across the front of the legislature, and a steady stream of people was allowed in, skipping the usual protocol of bag checks and security scans, to meet ministers scattered throughout the building.

At one point, Horgan went out onto the legislature lawn and waded into the crowd for a round of selfies.

The open house was also an opportunity to check out parts of the parliament buildings normally closed to the public, such as the legislative library.

Visitors ranged from long-time NDP supporters to curious neighbours. A crowd hovered around former NDP leader Adrian Dix, who was named minister of health.

“There is of course a lot of expectations, that’s understandable, but also some genuine joy. This is democracy,” Dix said.

“It’s good for everyone that the government changes, from time to time. And it’s been a while.”

One visitor who came with expectations was Joan Appleton, who said she was hopeful about the creation of a new Ministry for Mental Health and Addictions. Judy Darcy, who served as NDP health critic, will head the ministry.

“I have a daughter with schizophrenia, and a brother,” Appleton said.

“Let’s hope it means money is put toward it.”

Lindsay Mclean said she came to show support for the NDP government and that her allegiance began early.

“I’ve been an NDP supporter since I was seven or eight years old,” she said.

“My father was a hospital administrator and when the NDP came in, the hospitals got stuff that they never got from the Social Credit Party.”

Natalie Fletcher was the NDP candidate in Prince George-Valemount, but lost to longtime Liberal MLA Shirley Bond.

“John invited us to come down, which I thought was really great of him, to take the opportunity to see the swearing-in ceremony and chance to view the legislature,” Fletcher said.

One Fairfield resident called it an historic occasion and said that, as a neighbour, he thought he might as well stop in.

Cornel Lencar said he came for the ice cream, arriving early enough that he didn’t have to wait in line too long. His cone had caramel, vanilla and chocolate topping.

“I came before 5 p.m., so it wasn’t that big of a deal,” he said.

“Everyone else was after the premier.”

asmart@timescolonist.com

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