British Columbia

B.C. Premier John Horgan apologizes after swearing on floor of legislature

B.C. Premier John Horgan has apologized for swearing on the floor of the legislature on Monday, at the end of a heated question period focusing on health care.

Muttered 'ah, f--k' after questions on doctor crisis shows government's vulnerability on health care: analyst

B.C. Premier John Horgan has apologized for using a profanity at the end of question period on Monday, while he was responding to a question about the province's family doctor crisis. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

B.C. Premier John Horgan has apologized for swearing on the floor of the legislature on Monday at the end of a heated question period focusing on health care — a moment one political analyst says indicates the government's vulnerability on the file.

Horgan was answering a question from Trevor Halford, MLA for Surrey-White Rock, about the province's family doctor crisis, which has left nearly a million British Columbians without their own doctor.

Horgan, who had earlier been accused by Halford of blaming the federal government for the province's health care woes, then stood up to defend himself, and said he never sought to blame the feds.

But after being jeered a few times, Horgan started to yell directly at the opposition bench.

WATCH | Horgan says 'f--k' on floor of B.C. Legislature:

B.C. Premier John Horgan swears on legislature floor

4 months ago
Duration 1:33
At the end of a chaotic question period focusing on health care, Horgan is heard dropping the f-bomb.

"Do you want to hear it? Do you want to hear it, or do you just want to hear your voice? Why don't you go in the bathroom and talk to yourself in there?" Horgan asks. 

"You don't want to hear answers in this place. Seriously … Do you really care, or do you want to hear yourself? Do you want a headline, or do you want action? Ah, f--k."

The question period ended shortly thereafter, with Speaker Raj Chouhan calling for the members to refrain from making debates personal and saying, "Let's behave like adults, please."

Horgan initially posted a statement on his Twitter account, saying "If my mom was still around, she'd be on her way to the legislature with a bar of Irish Spring [soap]."

But the premier returned later to the legislature to make a full apology.

"Earlier today at the end of question period, my passion for health care got the better of me and I made some intemperate comments that may well have offended members of this house or others," Horgan said. 

"I apologize for that and withdraw those remarks unreservedly."

Government seen to be vulnerable

Gerald Baier, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, said the family doctor crisis was one of the issues the B.C. NDP government is currently struggling with, and that is why Horgan was likely eager to push back on the opposition parties.

"It wasn't just out of the blue," Baier told CBC News. "It was a back and forth over family physicians and a few issues that the Liberals hope to show the NDP to be vulnerable on."

Baier said the swearing Horgan harkened back to days of a more "fighting" image for B.C.'s premier, who was once saddled with the nickname "Hulk Horgan".

"This is one of the perceptions he had to overcome before the 2017 election," Baier said. "He's managed to keep a lot of that kind of fighting spirit a little bit more contained. But, you know, this is one of those times when he wasn't able to do it."

Halford, whose question ultimately provoked Horgan's profanity, said the premier's faux pas was a result of "frustration" that he didn't have an answer for the B.C. Liberals regarding the province's family doctor issue.

"The fact is we actually have kids in the [legislature] gallery today," Halford told CBC News. 

Trevor Halford, B.C. Liberal MLA for Surrey-White Rock and critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said Horgan did not have an answer for the opposition on the province's shortage of family doctors. (Trevor Halford/Twitter)

"I think that those children deserve a lot better than to see the premier of the province use profanity when we were talking about the fact that a million British Columbians are without a doctor."

Halford questioned Horgan's commitment to solving the crisis, saying the premier was focused on political attacks instead of solutions.

"I'm hearing from people say that this is a desperate issue and it's one the premier does not have an answer for."

With files from Liam Britten and The Canadian Press

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