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Editorial: Premier performance – John Horgan bowing out as leader

B.C. Premier John Horgan ended speculation by announcing Tuesday he won't lead the NDP into the next election. He leaves big shoes to fill.
john horgan
BC Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday he won't lead his party into the next election. file photo Dan Toulgoet

After weeks of will-he-or-won’t-he speculation, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced Tuesday he won’t run again. As tempting as it is to stay on and fight another day in politics, Horgan has chosen to leave while at the top of his game.

Horgan came to office in one of the most fascinating power plays in B.C. history, which involved political wooing of both then Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and a BC Liberal to sit as Speaker in a razor-thin minority government.

In opposition, Horgan had a reputation as a scrapper, but he managed to tone that down and become more statesmanlike as premier.

When COVID-19 descended, Horgan kept the government’s response decidedly apolitical, deferring to the province’s health minister and provincial health officer. It was the right decision, as B.C. fared better than other provinces where responses to the pandemic took on more political overtones.

Moving forward on policies around housing and Indigenous reconciliation have been key themes of the Horgan government, though both issues remain fraught.

To date, with notable exception of the Royal B.C. Museum episode, the NDP has kept its political Teflon in place, remaining notably scandal free. Not all has been perfect, though. He shredded the Freedom of Information request process. There was the decision to continue with the Site C dam after previously coming out against the project, and provincial policies on old-growth logging remain deeply divisive. But overall, Horgan has managed to steer the ship of state smoothly through choppy waters.

All eyes now turn to which potential successors might have the moxie to take on Liberal leader Kevin Falcon. Whoever they are, they’ll have big shoes to fill.