John Horgan is flanked by two prominent MLAs at swearing-in ceremony in May. Selina Robinson (left) is a likely pick for the new minister for mental health and addictions, and former B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jinny Sims (right) is a contender for education minister. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Heat on John Horgan to deliver on his promises

ANALYSIS: Bridge tolls, ferries among low-hanging fruit

After weeks of frustration at the slow change of government in B.C., premier-designate John Horgan has little time to spare in starting to deliver on his long list of campaign promises.

Even before appointing a cabinet and being officially sworn in, Horgan faces two big challenges: hiring and retaining senior staff to work with a fragile minority, and showing immediate results on the sweeping changes he has spent a decade demanding.

Horgan’s own stated priorities include visiting Ottawa and Washington D.C. to make the case for a new lumber trade deal with the U.S., but this is mainly public relations. It’s a federal matter, everything that can be done is being done, and Donald Trump’s U.S. is targeting B.C.’s existing log export restrictions.

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark had her own suggestion for Horgan at Canada Day events in Kelowna. “It’s a good idea to expand child care, but we will have the ability to amend any bills they bring forward,” Clark said.

Legislation of any kind isn’t likely to begin until after Labour Day, but some of Horgan’s promises need only money. In the near term that’s not difficult, with a surplus estimated at $2.8 billion turned over by outgoing B.C. Liberal finance minister Mike de Jong.

Horgan will take pleasure in presiding over the demise of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges. Spending the B.C. Liberal “fantasy fund” set up for natural gas export revenues will make it sweeter, and put off budget impact for at least a year.

BC Ferries offer another pleasant task that doesn’t weigh heavily on the budget. The NDP promised to cut fares by 15 per cent on minor routes, and reinstate free travel for seniors from Monday to Thursday, popular moves that leave the money-making major routes undisturbed.

Two of Horgan’s promises have self-imposed deadlines. The first is a mandatory fall sitting of the legislature, which is now dictated by events after the long wait for an election result. The surplus makes it relatively easy to impose a budget update with boosts to housing and education spending, leaving the heavy lifting of increasing taxes on high-income earners and business for a full budget next February.

The other self-imposed deadline is for a referendum on electoral reform, a key demand of B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver in exchange for his support on “supply and confidence” votes.

The referendum is to be held with next year’s municipal elections, which have a turnout around a third of eligible voters. That is set for November 2018, and Horgan’s main challenge will be to have his government survive that long.

BC Election 2017BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

July Kootenay real estate sales at record high

Sales and prices of Kootenay real estate on the rise

The International Snow Science Workshop goes virtual

The livestreamed event will include speaker sessions, poster presentations, and panel discussions

Twlefth annual Columbia Basin Culture Tour showcases local artists

Artists from throughout the Elk Valley will be participating in the event August 8 and 9

Elk River Alliance encourages volunteers to ‘bring their own bubble’ and help clear invasive species from Elk Valley

Invasive species haven’t taken a break due to the pandemic, and the Elk River Alliance hasn’t either.

ICBC stats show Fernie, Crowsnest Highway the most likely locations for collisions in Elk Valley

Drivers most often have collisions in Fernie and along the Crowsnest Hwy. according to ICBC stats

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

B.C. group renews call for protection of newly discovered glass sponge reefs

DFO says public consultation will play heavy role in future protection measures

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Most Read