Prior to yesterday morning’s election announcement from BC Premier John Horgan, seven of his cabinet ministers announced they would not run again.
- Judy Darcy: Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
- Doug Donaldson: Minister of Forests
- Scott Fraser: Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation
- Carole James: Minister of Finance
- Michelle Mungall: Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness
- Shane Simpson: Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
- Claire Trevena: Minister of Transportation
To this intrepid commentator, this mass exodus, fully 25% of Premier John Horgan’s cabinet, means one of three things:
- Governing during a pandemic is really hard;
- They’re done with public life (and ready to receive their government pensions); or
- John Horgan is not a very nice man to work for.
Finance Minister Carole James is the lone exception. On March 5, 2020, Ms. James announced she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and would not be seeking re-election whenever the next election was called. That’s a tough diagnosis, and I wish her all the best as she leaves politics to cope with her health challenges.
Taking Carole James out of the equation, John Horgan is still losing 22% of his cabinet.
Horgan is spinning this as “a time for renewal” – a claim aided by the fact three former federal MPs will run under his provincial NDP banner. But it is eerily reminiscent of the mass exodus of 16 veteran NDP MPs in advance of the 2019 federal election.
Those three former federal representatives running for Horgan’s NDP are:
- Nathan Cullen
- Murray Rankin
- Fin Donnelly
All three resigned ahead of the 2019 federal election.
All three are eligible for a federal MP pension.
All three are now running for the provincial NDP under John Horgan.
What does it all mean? At this point, your guess is as good as mine, but I suspect it means just what John Horgan said it means.
While I snarkily added “not a very nice man to work for” as the third option in my list above, I don’t believe Horgan’s likeability (or any perceived lack thereof) has anything to do with why these cabinet members are leaving public life.
In fact, I suspect if I were to meet John Horgan and go for a coffee with him, I would like him.
He seems, for the most part, to be genuine.
With the exception of his Facebook video posted shortly after his press conference, he seems authentic. (Something about it didn’t ring true for me but I haven’t pinpointed what, just yet.)
I believe governing any province during a global pandemic is really, really hard. Yes, even when partisanship is parked at the door, as it has since this pandemic began.
Added to this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic challenge is the fact every one of these soon-to-be-retired cabinet members have already served a very long time.
Shane Simpson, Scott Fraser, Claire Trevena and Carole James were all elected in 2005.
Fifteen years in politics is an eternity.
Michelle Mungall and Doug Donaldson were first elected in 2009, and have served the public for 11 years.
Judy Darcy is a political neophite, in comparison. Elected in 2013, she’s only served for 7 years.
Whether I agree with their policies or not (and since the NDP formed government in 2017, oddly, I’ve agreed with much of what they done – pipelines notwithstanding), everyone one of these individuals deserves our respect and our gratitude.
As I said to a friend of mine, there isn’t enough money to entice me to spend one week in political office, let alone 7, 11, or 15 years.
Those willing to stand for public office are to be commended, no matter what party they represent.