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Former B.C. premier John Horgan stepping down from provincial politics

Horgan received a standing ovation Thursday afternoon in the provincial legislature
Forner premier John Horgan is leaving provincial politics. He made the announcement Thursday in the provincial legislature. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Former premier John Horgan said he plans to “get on with his life” after leaving provincial politics in March, possibly on St. Patrick’s Day, after delivering a farewell speech Thursday.

“I’m so fortunate to have this opportunity,” he said at one stage. “How did I get to be so lucky?”

Horgan actually never said during the speech that he is resigning, because it would have meant his immediate departure from the legislature.

Horgan told reporters that he looks forward to whatever the world has in store for him.

“I spent a lot of time doing this and I believe there are other things in the world for me to do and I’m excited about that,” he said.

Details of his departure from the legislature remain to be worked out, but Horgan said he plans to leave by the end of the fiscal year.

Horgan told reporters he plans to support the New Democratic candidate who will run to replace him in Langford-Juan de Fuca, but added he is done with elected politics. Horgan said he came to appreciate being a normal person after stepping down from the premier’s office in November, working around his Langford home and driving himself to events.

But Horgan did not rule out being involved in other political ways, as his speech included a passionate appeal to address climate change.

“We are in extraordinary times,” he told reporters. “The human condition is in peril and we all need to find ways to resolve these issues….there are an endless list of challenges and they don’t lend themselves to the rigorous cut and thrust in the legislature because citizens have to be engaged, not just legislators.”

Horgan’s speech was a 30-minute-long walk down memory lane that touched on 30-year-long career in public service. He described his almost-foray into journalism, recalled his days as chief of staff for former premier Dan Miller, recounted memorable debates with former finance minister Colin Hansen while in opposition, and his time as premier.

He poked fun at his reputation for being hot-headed and praised the value of political collaboration for the better good.

He also paid tribute to his family and long-time political collaborators.

“We had the worst of time in opposition and the best of time in government,” he said.

New Democrats elected Horgan as their leader in 2014. A confidence-and-supply agreement with B.C. Greens under then-leader Andrew Weaver made Horgan B.C.’s 36th premier in summer 2017, after voters had delivered a split election verdict in the spring election of 2017.

While B.C. Liberals under then-premier Christy Clark won 43 seats, Horgan’s arrangement with Weaver and his two fellow B.C. Green MLAs allowed Horgan to head a NDP minority government. A confidence vote had defeated Clark’s caretaker government, ending 16 years of B.C. Liberal governments.

Horgan then translated his minority government into a majority government in October 2020 when New Democrats added 16 more seats. B.C. Liberals finished with 28 seats, while the B.C. Greens were left with two.

Horgan announced in June 2022 that he would step down as premier after having undergone treatment for cancer a second time in his life, triggering a leadership race that eventually saw David Eby replace Horgan as premier.

Eby paid tribute to his predecessor for guiding British Columbia through the COVID-19 pandemic and various natural disasters. Eby wished him well and jokingly suggested that he should try to fix the Vancouver Canucks.

B.C. Liberal House Leader Todd Stone and B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau also praised Horgan.

Horgan’s move triggers a byelection in his riding of Langford-Juan de Fuca, where voters first elected him in 2005. He won the riding with almost 67 per cent of cast votes in 2020. While the boundaries of the riding have changed, experts consider the area ‘safe’ for New Democrats.

RELATED: B.C. Premier John Horgan to step down ahead of 2024 election


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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