It took longer than British Columbians were anticipating, but a provincial government is in place.
A B.C. NDP government led by new premier John Horgan was sworn in last week, and he has restructured cabinet and named ministers, one of many tasks that will happen leading up to the fall sitting of the legislature. The government needs to literally move in and set up and staff offices in Victoria.
Long-serving North Islan dMLA CLaire Trevena will take a seat at the cabinet table, having been sworn in as Minister of Transportation and Insfrastructure. It’s a portfolio she’s familiar with, having been the NDP opposition’s transportation critic, a job she seemed to relish as she continually poked at the BC Liberal government’s handling of BC Ferries.
But other ridings were disappointed to learn that their longtime MLA didn’t receive a cabinet post, Leonard Krog in Nanaimo, for example. Even factoring in the balancing act of diversity and regional representation, it was some surprise that Krog, well-spoken and well-versed, didn’t receive a portfolio and was instead made caucus chairman.
His new role on the party executive will be an important one, magnified because of the simple matter of the seat count in the legislature. Neither the NDP nor the B.C. Liberals can afford to see any dissension in the ranks when the confidence of the legislature is so perilous for the governing party. A minority government is a new experience for every one of B.C.’s MLAs; a minority of this nature is perhaps even more unpredictable.
If it’s hard to guess how this new B.C. government will work, then it’s just as difficult to envision how it will work for British Columbians.
Krog said he expects a lot of “progressive” initiatives to pass because the NDP and Greens have a written agreement and he added, tongue-in-cheek, perhaps, that the B.C. Liberals are in agreement, too, based on their throne speech.
We hope this B.C. NDP government will find the right balance. It already found common ground with the Greens and it should build bridges with the Liberals. At the same time, it will face, mathematically, the largest opposition possible and we should count that as a positive – there’s every reason why we can expect even debate and strong voices arguing all sides.
Potentially, it’s a balance that can create the right decision-making process for the province.