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BC Politics

Please Advise! What's with John Horgan's New Coal Job?

Nothing surprises Dr. Steve these days.

Steve Burgess 6 Apr

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Read his previous articles.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

John Horgan resigned his seat in the B.C. legislature last Friday. The next day, the Globe and Mail reported Horgan was joining the board of Elk Valley Resources, a coal mining company.

Were you surprised?


Burning Curiosity

Dear BC,

Dr. Steve has to admit — when he saw the tweet about Horgan joining a coal board on Saturday morning, his first reaction was, “Ha ha, good one Globe and Mail!” It was after all April 1.

Svend Robinson followed up with a tweet that he was joining the coal board too. “Go coal!” Robinson cheered.

Robinson's tweet was indeed an April Fool's joke. The original story was not.

Was Dr. Steve surprised? Well, would Dr. Steve be surprised if Elon Musk said, “Oh my gosh I've been running Twitter like a fool, what was I thinking?” Would Dr. Steve be nonplussed if Marjorie Taylor Greene said, “No one is above the law”? Would Dr. Steve be shocked if Ron DeSantis dressed up like the Little Mermaid and released an album of Disney show tunes? Would Dr. Steve be taken aback if Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim proposed an eight-lane bike thoroughfare on West Georgia? About the same degree of gobsmackitude, really.

A BC NDP premier joining the board of a coal company seems a bit like Superman doing security work for Lex Luthor. It also suggests an interesting Star Wars variation:

“Luke! Join me on the Dark Side!”

“Sounds good, Dad! Is there a dental plan?”

Dr. Steve was never much of a Kanye West fan. This allowed him to shrug when Yeezy went off the rails and started hanging with Trump and stuff. Now Dr. Steve is getting a little sense of what that must have felt like for West's fans — a bit like Bruce Springsteen becoming a majority shareholder in Goldman Sachs.

But then, you never know. Dr. Steve once saw a story about a snake and a hamster who became pals. And you remember in Toy Story when Woody and Buzz Lightyear became buddies. Most rom-coms start out with people who don't seem to like each other very much. Love can grow.

There's some precedent too. Twenty-two years ago former premier Glen Clark surprised a lot of people by joining the Jimmy Pattison Group after leaving politics. When Clark announced he was leaving the company earlier this year, Horgan commented: “What he’s demonstrated over the past 22 years is you can go from a so-called unwashed socialist union leader to being the head of the largest private-sector company in the country. That’s extraordinary.”

And inspiring too, it would seem.

Horgan points out that Elk Valley supplies coal for metallurgy. Unlike coal-fired electric plants, there is currently no viable alternative to coal for operations like steel-making. So it's like, say, you're a cow on the board of Maple Leaf Foods but it's OK, you're a dairy cow, and besides there's probably only a few hoof shavings in those hot dogs anyway.

But Horgan's new employers were fined $60 million for polluting Elk Valley waterways in 2021. That was when the company was known by another name, Teck Coal Ltd. Hey, you'd probably change your name after an incident like that, too. Why not? It worked pretty well for George Santos.

This development certainly opens the door to new possibilities and interesting career paths. What might be next? David Suzuki has announced this will be his last season hosting CBC's The Nature of Things. Might he pop up next as host of The Amazing Race Canada? Or replace Kevin O'Leary on Shark Tank?

Most fascinating of all are the potential new horizons for Premier David Eby and Opposition Leader Kevin Falcon. Eby is free to explore future opportunities in the oil and gas sector, while Falcon could one day entertain job offers from Greenpeace or the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

These days it's all about the shock factor.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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