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New B.C. Premier John Horgan faces Star Trek-like perils, enemies

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

BC NDP Leader John Horgan. 

BC NDP Leader John Horgan. FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS

"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here." - Alien Q to Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek Next Generation

B.C. New Democratic Party Premier-Designate John Horgan – a big Star Trek fan – is about to take command of British Columbia and boldly go in a very different direction.

"For years, life in B.C. has been getting harder and more expensive. That's about to change,” Horgan pledged last week, talking about shortening health care waits, investing in schools and building a sustainable economy with good jobs.

And given that departing Premier Christy Clark and her B.C. Liberal Party desperately assimilated almost the entire platforms of the NDP and B.C. Green Party in its throne speech, one might think an amazing degree of cooperation awaits Captain Horgan.

But you would be very wrong. It’s not safe is an extreme understatement because Horgan will face Star Trek-like perils and enemies.

For starters – the B.C. Liberal Party is still in the first stage of grief – denial. Next comes anger and it will be fierce, as 16 years of entitlements, perks and insider patronage disappear.

Second – it’s as simple as ABC: agencies, boards and commissions. The B.C. Liberals have appointed literally thousands of fellow travelers – from B.C. Hydro to the Turkey Marketing Board.

Horgan will need to purge B.C. Liberal “Borg” – in Star Trek terms – politically loyal to their party and in key positions who could sabotage the new government.

For example, a key Christy Clark advisor is Brad Bennett, a fixture on her campaign bus – but still B.C. Hydro chair.

Third – the most dangerous people aren’t opposition MLAs; they’re senior bureaucrats with B.C. Liberal connections.

John Paul Fraser, deputy minister of government communications at $270,000 a year, should be the first fired.

Fraser volunteered on Clark’s 2011 leadership campaign and is a longtime Clark friend. Being politically involved is fine – being a senior bureaucrat as well is not.

And several more DMs’ resumes are peppered with B.C. Liberal connections.

But that’s only a very short list of the galaxy of challenges facing Horgan as he enters the unknown territory of an NDP minority government – one that he hopes will live long and prosper – and enemies do not.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at Twitter: @BillTieleman