Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell was sworn in Monday as interim Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation at Government House in Victoria. Stilwell, originally elected to the legislature in 2013 and re-elected in last month’s provincial election, returns to the ministry she has led since 2015.
“I’m excited to continue to be cabinet minister on behalf of the citizens of B.C., and especially of Parksville-Qualicum,” said Stilwell, whose title also includes the new cabinet portfolio of Minister of Accessibility. “It’s an exciting time to be a part of government, certainly. History is being made each and every day.”
Premier Christy Clark, who was also sworn in by Lt. Governor Judith Guichon, has filled out the post-election vacancies in her cabinet, with ministers who aren’t expected to serve for long beyond the end of June.
B.C. Liberal ministers will continue or take on new responsibility in preparation for a throne speech on June 22, with the government expected to be defeated in a confidence vote the following week.
Stilwell said her approach will be to prepare for a Liberal minority goverment. Her ministry held its first meeting Monday afternoon, shortly after the swearing-in ceremony.
“The throne speech will be next week, and that will give us an opportunity as government to reinforce to the citizens of B.C. our commitment to ensuring we always put a strong economy and balanced budgets forward,” said Stilwell. “We want to take on a recognition of what voters asked for and move forward in that way.”
Clark and B.C. Liberal house leader Mike de Jong said last week they will follow tradition in the expected change to a minority NDP government, supported by three B.C. Green Party MLAs. That means “testing the confidence of the legislature” with a vote on the throne speech and if it is defeated, returning to Lt. Gov. Guichon to offer a chance for NDP leader John Horgan to govern.
Clark had several key cabinet vacancies following defeats or retirements in the May 9 election. They include justice minister, after Suzanne Anton was defeated in Vancouver-Fraserview by the NDP’s George Chow.
— With files from Tom Fletcher