B.C. Premier John Horgan promises inclusive legislature, despite overwhelming majority

·3 min read

The morning after his party delivered a crushing election victory, B.C. Premier John Horgan said his goal is to run an inclusive legislature where good ideas will be welcomed from any person, party or voter.

During a 30-minute media availability, Horgan said he has never forgotten his time as an opposition MLA, when the ideas he brought forward were dismissed.

"I was dismissed because my neighbours didn't vote the right way and I will never, never govern that way," he said. "If people need help I don't care how they vote, where they live, we're going to do our level best."

Preliminary results from Saturday show the B.C. NDP gained 14 seats for a total of 55, while the B.C. Liberals won 29 and the B.C. Green Party won three.

The B.C. NDP won 45 per cent of the popular vote. The party also claimed stronghold Liberal seats in places including Richmond, Chilliwack, Langley and the North Shore.

Horgan said the extension of his orange wave was due to the party's steady governance in the three years preceding this election. But also because the party paid attention to the needs of voters in ridings outside of Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver.

"We're talking about things that matter to those families: seniors care, child care, education, health care, transportation, those were the issues that were important to those British Columbians and that's why they voted for our team," he said.

Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press
Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

While Horgan and the B.C. NDP made breakthroughs in the suburbs, their reach did not extend into rural ridings beyond the North Coast and Stikine.

The majority of ridings along the province's eastern border, north to south and in the Interior stayed with the Liberals.

Horgan said Sunday that he recognized he had more work to do to gain the trust of voters in those ridings. He said not travelling much out of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland due to his previous government being based on a confidence agreement probably didn't help.

But he says the new composition of the legislature will help him change that.

"Having a majority government will allow me to get out of Victoria ... I've been tied in the legislature for big chunks of the year," he said. "I'll be able to travel now more freely to other parts of the province ... and be the spokesperson for the issues that we are bringing forward that will benefit rural British Columbia."

In particular he said he's committed to trying to find solutions for the embattled forestry sector, which has seen mill closures and layoffs due to low timber prices, the large-scale destruction of Crown harvest zones during the pine beetle epidemic and successive record wildfire seasons.

Once Elections BC announces final election results by mid-November as it works to count mail-in ballots, Horgan will have his new government sworn in. He will also have to find replacements at cabinet for several MLAs, such as Doug Donaldson, who was the forestry minister and did not seek reelection.

Horgan said he's excited about how his new cabinet may look considering he will be able to draw from a pool of MLAs representing other parts of the province.

"That will give me an embarrassment of riches," he said.

Horgan said his government's priorities will be the response to the pandemic, economic recovery, reconciliation with First Nations and climate change.