B.C.’s election is finally over, 52 days after voters went to the polls and after centuries-old constitutional principles were tested.
In the wake of one of the wildest finishes in B.C. political history, newly-minted Premier-designate John Horgan joined CKNW’s Jon McComb to discuss the road forward.
LISTEN: Premier-designate John Horgan joins CKNW’s Jon McComb
Now that the wrangling over who will sit in the premier’s chair is over, Horgan said he’s itching to get down to business.
“I know it’s been exciting and challenging for media and the public to follow this for the last seven weeks since election day. I mean, come on man, let’s get going.”
The first order of business will be assembling a cabinet, Horgan said, but with summer here now, he wouldn’t commit to a timeline for recalling the legislature.
“The legislature doesn’t have to be sitting for work to be done,” he said.
Horgan said he and key caucus members such as Carole James, who is widely expected to be tapped as finance minister, will be spend Friday in a series of briefings.
They will also look at financials in the coming days, he said.
The NDP will inherit a $2.8-billion surplus, according to a financial update the BC Liberals presented this week.
But Horgan sounded a skeptical note over those numbers, which he said have yet to be certified by the auditor general.
And he said while he hasn’t looked at the books yet, he has concerns about other areas.
“There was no mention of BC Hydro. There was no mention of ICBC. These are two fundamentally challenging issues that the Liberals have been burying for the past decade. And we need to get to the bottom of those issues to see what the real challenges are going to be.”
LISTEN: Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver joins CKNW’s Jon McComb
As for B.C.’s relationship with Ottawa, Horgan said he’s ready to try to make things work.
The NDP is on record as saying it will use “any means at its disposal” to disrupt the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supports the project, which is a key element in his relationship with Alberta, and by extension, his national climate change plan.
“I’m going to sit down with the prime minister at an early opportunity and discuss how we go forward on Kinder Morgan. I believe we need to defend our coast, my views have not changed on that overnight,” Horgan said.
But as much as the project could prove a sticking point, Horgan signaled it’s a conflict he’s more than happy to kick down the road in favour of files upon which he and Trudeau have common ground.
Those include the fentanyl crisis, affordable housing, transit and the softwood lumber dispute.
“I’d like to start with the things we agree on, and worry about the things we don’t agree on down the road.”
Co-operation in the house
As for whether he believes his party will be able to work with the Liberals, who are sitting in opposition for the first time in 16 years, Horgan said he’s ready to try.
“I’m hopeful. You have to take people at their word in every walk of life and the BC Liberals were standing up one after the other for the past week professing their support for child care, professing their support for investments in health care, in seniors] care, in education as well as ensuring that we maintain a strong economy that works for everybody.”
In the wake of the election, outgoing Premier Christy Clark told the province that the Liberals had heard the message from voters and that they were looking to co-operate more across party lines.
Asked whether that’s still the case, BC Liberal MLA and former attorney general Andrew Wilkinson said the party’s priority is to “vigorously” hold the government to account.
“We will be positive and reasonable where it’s called for, we will hold them to account for their spending habits. They have a long history of being completely profligate in their spending, and spending very unwisely to the point where they run out of money,” he said.
Wilkinson added that the Liberals continue to have concerns about how the NDP will govern with a one-seat majority.
And they’ll pay particular attention to whether the government plays within the legislature’s rules, he said.
“If they start to monkey with them we’re going to be very loud, and we’ll expect the media to be the same.”
Wilkinson said if the NDP rolls out a plan announced this week to refer most contentious matters to a committee, the government’s majority on that committee must reflect its slim majority on the legislature.
As for Christy Clark’s future, Wilkinson refused to speculate.
“This is not the time to start navel gazing about the Liberal Party, it’s time to focus on our task as the opposition and to hold the NDP and the Greens to account,” he said.