British Columbia·Q & A

Premier-designate John Horgan looks forward to 'new kind of leadership'

B.C. premier-designate John Horgan sits down with CBC to talk about his priorities for the province's new NDP government.

'I’m certain we can make this last working together and not being combative'

NDP Leader John Horgan will be B.C.'s next premier. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

More than seven weeks after the May 9 election, British Columbia will soon have a new premier.

NDP Leader John Horgan has been asked to form the next government after toppling outgoing-premier Christy Clark in a non-confidence vote yesterday, ending 16 years of B.C. Liberal rule.

The premier-designate spoke to CBC's The Early Edition's guest host Stephen Quinn this morning about that moment, and the province's future.

Tell me more about your conversation with the lieutenant-governor.

It was very brief. We had met several times before. She asked if I had the confidence of the legislature to form a government. I said I did. She agreed that the people of British Columbia do not want another election. They want their MLAs to get to work.

We both remarked on the number of new MLAs — a quarter — have never known anything but the drama of the past week as legislators. I think there's a real desire now to get down to work with a new fresh start at the legislature to focus on the things that matter to people and I can't wait to get going.

So when do you get started?

Well, we start this morning to meet with government officials who have been in caretaker mode.  Whether they're in charge of education, seniors care, or healthcare — they've been waiting for new direction.

Monday morning, even though it's a day off, we'll be back at the transition and as soon as we're prepared to swear in a government.

In the weeks ahead we'll do that and work towards opening the legislature with a new throne speech and a new agenda.

You've mentioned new MLAs. Some critics say there's a lot of inexperience among your members. How will you make your cabinet picks?

Well I disagree with that. Mike Farnworth, my house leader, is the longest serving member on our side who has experience as a minister as well as an expert in parliamentary practice. He's someone that I'm going to be relying on heavily.

Carole James, Adrian Dix [are] both very experienced. There's quite a long list. I won't have no shortage of people able to be in cabinet. That's the least of my problems.         

Earlier this week, outgoing B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Mike De Jong said the province's surplus was larger than expected, around $3 billion. How much do you trust those numbers?

Quite honestly, I don't believe that. This past week has been extraordinary.

Mr. de Jong was having an extraordinary press conference before the public accounts were released — which has never happened before — to tell us how great things were.

There was no mention of BC Hydro, which a huge challenge for the people of B.C. seeing their rates go up so dramatically. Nothing about ICBC where there are serious challenges ahead as well.

There is work to be done there but I'll wait for my chance to sit down with Finance Ministry officials and go from there.

Are you downplaying expectations?

No, not all. I don't want to do that. I know that people have very high expectations for a government that will focus on the issues that will matter to them. I'm very much looking forward to that.

We're going to have a deadlock in the house essentially once the speaker is appointed. What kind of relationship will you maintain with the Green Party to make sure you have the numbers for every vote?

We don't need the numbers for every vote. The B.C. Liberals have been able to have a majority and do whatever they want without reaching across and talking to people from other place and other perspectives.

I'm looking forward to a new kind of leadership that focuses on making sure we get an agreement on legislation and other policy decisions that are going to help people rather than posturing politics. People are very excited about that prospect.

Andrew Weaver and the two Green MLAs and I have had a very positive relationship in the past couple of weeks and I look forward to positive relationships with Liberals who want to work to better B.C. in the days ahead.

How long do you see the government lasting?

Four years. That's the mandate of government. I'm certain we can make this last working together and not being combative.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Listen to the full interview with John Horgan on CBC's The Early Edition: