B.C. Premier John Horgan appointed a new cabinet today that signalled stability, with most ministers in the last government returned to cabinet, including seven in the same positions they held before last month’s election.
In remarks during the ceremony and to reporters, Horgan stressed the need for ministers to work together and with other members of the legislature to keep people healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are extraordinarily challenging times,” Horgan said, adding he’s “pleased to have a diverse and dynamic team at the cabinet table.”
The only newly-elected MLAs made full ministers are former MP Murray Rankin in Indigenous relations and reconciliation, former Tofino mayor Josie Osborne in municipal affairs and former Hospital Employees’ Union executive Jennifer Whiteside in education.
Kimberly Speers, an assistant professor in public administration at the University of Victoria, said there was less movement in the cabinet than she'd expected, though it made sense on reflection. "I'm not surprised by Horgan keeping a lot of the ministers from the previous round," she said. "I think they proved their credibility, loyalty and capability.”
The structure of the cabinet and the distribution of parliamentary secretaries suggests the government will focus on the pandemic, the opioid crisis, the related economic challenges and the climate crisis, she said. It was interesting to see a parliamentary secretary appointed for anti-racism initiatives and she'll be watching to see what Rachna Singh does in the position, she added.
Four backbench MLAs in the last government were promoted: Mitzi Dean to children and family development; Ravi Kahlon to jobs, economic recovery and innovation; Sheila Malcolmson to mental health and addictions; and Nicholas Simons to social development and poverty reduction.
A half dozen veteran ministers were shifted into new jobs. Selina Robinson moved to finance minister, Katrine Conroy to forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, and Rob Fleming going to transportation and infrastructure. Fleming was education minister in the last government.
Melanie Mark is the new minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport, Lisa Beare will be the citizens’ services minister and Anne Kang is the minister of advanced education and skills training.
Continuing in their positions are Adrian Dix in health, David Eby as attorney general, Mike Farnworth in public safety and solicitor general, Lana Popham in agriculture, food and fisheries, George Heyman in environment and climate change strategy and Harry Bains in labour. Eby also assumed responsibility for housing.
Bruce Ralston continues as the minister for the renamed ministry of energy, mines and low-carbon innovation.
There are also four ministers of state and 13 parliamentary secretaries. The ministers of state are Katrina Chen, Nathan Cullen, George Chow and Bowinn Ma. When the legislature resumes, members will elect a Speaker. The NDP has said Raj Chouhan will be its choice to become Speaker.
UVic’s Speers said she thinks Horgan left Cullen in a junior role to give him time to rebuild his reputation after missteps during the campaign. "If there wasn't so much controversy during the election campaign, he might have had a ministerial position.”
Not including the premier, the 24-person cabinet is half women and half men. Four of the full ministers are either Indigenous or people of colour, as are three of the four ministers of state.
“I grew up playing team sports,” Horgan said. “Sometimes I was the best on the team, sometimes I was the last player picked, but every time I got into a game... I put everything I could into it. I know my cabinet’s going to do that, I know the members of the legislature are going to do that, and I know British Columbians expect nothing less.”
Shirley Bond, the interim leader for the BC Liberals, released a statement congratulating Horgan and the new cabinet. “Having had the honour of serving in numerous cabinet portfolios, I know this is a moment to enjoy with family and friends, but I also understand the hard work that begins today for all of us.”
The Liberals will be announcing their critic portfolios and leadership team in the coming days, she said.
“This cabinet has a significantly heavier weight of responsibility to bear than a typical new government,” BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau said in an emailed statement.
“The premier has said he wants to run an inclusive legislature, and we expect to see that in action immediately. We look forward to working across party lines with all members in this legislature while strongly holding this new government to account on the decisions they make and any lack of progress on our most pressing challenges.”
Here’s the full list of appointments.
Premier: John Horgan
Attorney General (and minister responsible for housing): David Eby
Parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives: Rachna Singh
Advanced Education and Skills Training: Anne Kang
Parliamentary secretary for skills training: Andrew Mercier
Agriculture, Food and Fisheries: Lana Popham
Parliamentary secretary for fisheries and aquaculture: Fin Donnelly
Citizens’ Services: Lisa Beare
Children and Family Development: Mitzi Dean
Minister of state for child care: Katrina Chen
Education: Jennifer Whiteside
Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (and minister responsible for the Consular Corps of B.C.): Bruce Ralston
Environment and Climate Change Strategy (and minister responsible for Translink): George Heyman
Parliamentary secretary for environment: Kelly Greene
Finance: Selina Robinson
Parliamentary secretary for gender equity: Grace Lore
Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development: Katrine Conroy
Minister of state for lands, natural resource operations: Nathan Cullen
Parliamentary secretary for rural development: Roly Russell
Health (and minister responsible for Francophone Affairs): Adrian Dix
Parliamentary secretary for seniors services and long-term care: Mable Elmore
Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation: Murray Rankin
Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation: Ravi Kahlon
Minister of state for trade: George Chow
Parliamentary secretary for technology and innovation: Brenda Bailey
Labour: Harry Bains
Parliamentary secretary for new economy: Adam Walker
Mental Health and Addictions: Sheila Malcolmson
Municipal Affairs: Josie Osborne
Public Safety and Solicitor General: Mike Farnworth
Parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness: Jennifer Rice
Social Development and Poverty Reduction: Nicholas Simons
Parliamentary secretary for community development and non-profits: Niki Sharma
Parliamentary secretary for accessibility: Dan Coulter
Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport: Melanie Mark
Parliamentary secretary for arts and film: Bob D'Eith
Transportation and Infrastructure: Rob Fleming
Minister of state for infrastructure: Bowinn Ma
Read more: BC Politics