B.C.’s NDP government to be officially sworn in on July 18

ROB SHAW, Postmedia Network

NDP MLA Carole James. (Postmedia)

NDP MLA Carole James. (Postmedia)

VICTORIA — B.C.’s new NDP government will officially take power on July 18, premier-designate John Horgan announced Thursday.

Horgan and his cabinet will be sworn in on that day at Government House by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, marking the NDP’s official start as government.

NDP MLA Carole James said it means that “then the official hard work starts.”

“The transition is going on right now, but then you’ll have ministers who will be able to go in, get their files, meet with their staff and begin the hard work of running government,” she said.

The swearing-in ceremony will be the public’s first glimpse at Horgan’s cabinet. The NDP only has four MLAs outside of Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver, posing a geographical representation problem for Horgan in the province’s Interior and north.

As well, the NDP has indicated in the past it places a premium on gender equality, and so the Horgan cabinet is expected to have a high number of female ministers.

“He’ll be looking at all of those issues,” said James. But she said she’s not aware of any NDP commitment to have at least 50 per cent of cabinet be women.

Horgan will also have balance a cabinet that mixes veteran MLAs - many of whom have spent several terms in opposition and expect at least a chance at the front bench - with rookie MLAs who bring fresh blood and unique skill sets to the New Democrat team.

“I know that he’s struggling with his decisions,” said James. “It’s a tough thing to do. We’ve got a lot of very good people and very strong people and so there will be tough decisions to be made.”

The timing of the swearing-in date means the NDP will take two and a half weeks to transition into government since being asked by Guichon on June 29 to replace the Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals.

The Liberals were defeated on a confidence vote by the NDP-Green alliance on June 29, prompting Clark’s resignation. She remains a caretaker premier until Horgan is sworn in.

The NDP transition team is still reviewing binders provided by the civil service, said James. This week, Horgan announced former BCIT president Don Wright would serve as his deputy minister and head of the public service. Former Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs will serve as Horgan’s chief of staff.

Both men are now hiring members of their leadership teams, with the goal to get as many people in place before July 18, said James.

The swearing-in date will also land during the middle of a meeting of premiers scheduled for July 17 to 19 in Alberta.

It makes it unlikely Horgan could attend the meeting to represent B.C. Had he gone, he was likely to receive tough questions about the B.C. NDP’s opposition to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which the Alberta NDP supports.

James said the timing is not deliberate.

“We’re looking at finding a cabinet swearing in as quickly as possible and one that obviously worked with the lieutenant-governor to use Government House and the 18th was as soon as we could do it,” said James.

rshaw@postmedia.com

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