One premier has left. A new one has arrived.
The transition of power in B.C. from John Horgan to David Eby has shaped the political conversation of 2022 and made the two of them key political newsmakers of the year.
By the nature of the job, the premier is always going to be one of the key newsmakers in the province.
What stands out, even more, is a premier leaving the job while still being popular.
In June, Horgan announced he would be stepping down and triggered an NDP leadership race.
Horgan leaves office having secured the BC NDP a massive majority, introduced first-of-its-kind legislation to enshrine UNDRIP and built up a universal child care program.
At the time of leaving office, he was still one of the two or three most popular premiers in the country according to the Angus Reid Institute.
The 63-year-old could have continued on with the electorate but made the decision to step down due to his health following cancer treatments.
At 6ft 8 eight, when you hit the ground running your strides are pretty long.
Eby kicked off his first month as premier in a sprint, requiring public servants, his cabinet and reporters to try and keep up with the pace.
The 46-year-old laid out significant policy pieces on affordability, housing, public safety and health-care.
In part, they are things the province was doing to address emerging issues and in part, they are issues Eby wasn’t able to do while serving as Attorney General and housing minister.
It was shaping up to be a coronation for Eby until Anjali Appadurai showed up.
The climate activist and former federal NDP candidate was supported by B.C.’s environmental movement and reportedly sold thousands of new memberships for the BC NDP.
But the NDP ultimately determined those memberships were sold by breaking the party’s rules. The determination led to Appadurai being disqualified from the race and Eby being crowned premier.
During the short-lived leadership race, Appadurai promised free public transit and a 25 per cent raise for nurses.
Falcon was first in the BC Liberal leadership and then won a by-election to become MLA for Vancouver Quilchena.
His eyes are now firmly on his next election – the provincial election scheduled for October 2024.
The former minister in both Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark’s cabinet left politics in 2014, only to return this year with a new job and new focus.
He is now the father of two school-aged girls and is working towards both re-naming and re-branding the BC Liberals.
Dr. Ramneek Dosanjh
The president of the Doctors of BC is a job with a timeline: a one-year term.
But Dosanjh was able to jam more into 2022 than many of her predecessors were able to do combined.
Dosanjh opened her term as the face of doctors in the province as the COVID-19 pandemic entered the omicron phase, with doctors exhausted after nearly two years of dealing with the virus.
The pandemic exposed significant concerns in the existing health-care system and opened the door for Dosanjh to work with the province to redesign the way primary care works.
The end result was a new master agreement, moving family doctors in B.C. from some of the worst paid in the country to some of the best paid.
The new deal for doctors also better reflects the modern challenges facing care providers on the front line.
British Columbia’s public sector unions have a tradition of working together during negotiating time but there is always one union needed to lead the way.
In 2022 the role was filled by the BC General Employees Union and president Stephanie Smith.
Smith led the union, and more than 33,000 of its members, in government advocacy to get cost of living increases built into a new contract.
The negotiations stretched through the spring and the summer, ultimately leading to some workers on strike.
A new deal, with built-in wages to reflect some of the inflationary pressure, was finally reached in September. The deal was ratified, but with just over 53 per cent of the members who voted supporting it.
The scandal that rocked the legislature for the past years came to a conclusion in 2022.
Craig James was found guilty of breach of trust over the improper purchase of clothing using public funds and was sentenced by way of conditional sentence order of three months.
James spent a month under house arrest, and in months two and three had an overnight curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The court ordered the former clerk of the B.C. Legislature to pay back $1,886.72 in a restitution order, which is the amount for the clothing he misrepresented as work attire.
Doug McCallum’s 2022 was defined by two big events: his re-election and his public mischief trial.
While McCallum won in court, he lost in the court of public opinion.
Having to appear in court multiple times in 2022 stemming from an investigation into his claims that someone ran over his foot at a Save-On-Foods parking lot, McCallum consistently plead his innocence.
By the time the fall rolled around, the public was torn on the Surrey mayor’s behaviour and he ultimately finished second in his re-election bid with Brenda Locke winning the election.
Soon after voting wrapped up, McCallum’s trial began with the then-former mayor being cleared of wrongdoing.
As the legal system dealt with McCallum, multiple challengers to the mayor’s seat emerged in Surrey.
Ultimately Brenda Locke, a one-term city councilor, came out with the most votes in the city.
Locke’s big promise was to end the police transition to the Surrey Police Service and keep the RCMP in charge of the community.
The new Surrey mayor led the city’s pitch to the province and is still waiting on whether her big election promise will be allowed.
Voters in the 2022 municipal election sent a clear message, no matter where they lived, they wanted change.
Ken Sim, Vancouver’s first mayor of Asian heritage, won in a landslide defeating incumbent Kennedy Stewart.
The entrepreneur and co-founder of Rosemary Rocksalt Bagels lost the 2018 election by fewer than 1,000 votes and reversed his fortunes by also winning a majority slate on the council.
Sim has forged an early working relationship with Eby in an attempt to deliver on additional mental health nurses and police officers.
Dr. Bonnie Henry
British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry attempted to focus more on the ongoing toxic drug supply and other health-related issues, but COVID-19 kept commandeering her time and attention.
An Omicron wave forced the province to put in additional COVID-19 measures and eventually almost all restrictions were lifted.
Henry has not backed down on one major policy change, a requirement for all health workers in hospitals to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The combination of RSV, the flu and COVID also led to Henry providing additional public briefings in an attempt to increase the number of people getting the flu vaccine.
Health minister Adrian Dix faced calls for his resignation and was declared the country’s best health minister, all in the span of a few weeks in 2022.
Dix kept himself busy with a new deal with doctors, a fast-tracking of accreditation for international nurses and a focus on getting the health care system to complete more surgeries in a single year than ever before.
Even though the BC Liberals wanted Dix to resign over significant workforce pressures on the health-care system and wait times, Eby kept him in the health portfolio.
Nike Sharma made history in December when she was tasked to be the first South Asian woman to serve as Attorney General.
Sharma takes over a file with unique political challenges, serving both as the cabinet’s lawyer and spokesperson for complex legal issues for the province.
Sharma and Eby both worked as human rights and civil rights lawyers in and around Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
The pair have a strong personal and work relationship, making Sharma one of the few in Eby’s inner circle.
Although nearly a million British Columbians don’t have a family doctor, more and more people in this province are able to connect with one through Telus Health.
Under Juggy Sihota’s leadership, the telecom giant has seen massive growth in new virtual customers in 2022 with plans to continue connecting more people in the province with a doctor through online appointments.
But the relationship between the province and Telus Health has recently been strained after British Columbia’s Medical Services Commission filed an injunction in B.C. Supreme Court against them alleging the company is breaking the Medicare Protection Act.
The action is being taken against the company’s LifePlus program, not the program currently linking people up with doctors.
Patients must pay to access LifePlus services currently advertised as providing access to support from a multidisciplinary care team and programs of prevention and early detection.
Sihota has defended the company telling reporters Telus didn’t even have a chance to defend itself before the injunction was filed.
“To not, at this point, be given an opportunity to even have a discussion, to even get a response on our inquiries, to say, ‘If there’s something that you think is not right let us know, we will fix it.’,” Sihota said.
Ravi Kahlon could have been B.C.’s premier.
Instead, he has settled, for now, as the province’s first housing minister in nearly 50 years.
Kahlon, who served as Horgan’s jobs minister, was expected to run for the NDP leadership. But because of his young family, he opted not to take a shot at the party’s top job.
The former Olympic field hockey player used his clout to support Eby and his decision led to many of his other colleagues following suit and not running.
The housing portfolio is seen as one of the highest-profile jobs in the Eby cabinet and will give Kahlon more opportunities to manage hot-button issues in the province.
One of the most powerful people in international soccer, Victor Montagliani was vexed when it seemed a World Cup in Canada would be played without Vancouver playing host.
The head of CONCACAF, the federation of soccer organizations from North America and the Caribbean, is not just a FIFA vice president but a Vancouver native.
He never gave up hope, watching as Soccer Canada, the B.C. government and the bid committee worked to ensure all questions were dealt with about BC Place hosting the biggest sport event in the world.
Ultimately Montagliani played a role in choosing BC Place as a host venue after the stadium successfully hosted the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.
In the end, with an assist from die-hard soccer fan and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the provincial government decided to resume a bid to host.
The bid was ultimately successful and it would be hard to believe Montagliani, an East Vancouver native, will not be at BC Place when the games are played in 2026.