British Columbia’s outgoing premier says he has offered a helping hand in resolving a gridlock over health care between provincial and territorial leaders and the federal government.
John Horgan, who will pass the premiership to NDP Leader David Eby in an inauguration ceremony Friday, emphasized he’s not looking for a job, but says he sent a group text message to his counterparts saying he’d be happy to help any way he can and has indicated the same to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Horgan says he knows the file, he’s passionate about it and believes he has the confidence of leaders across the political spectrum to help them solve it.
However, he noted his relationship isn’t as strong with federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, whom he accused of “ghosting” provincial leaders who gathered in Victoria in July hoping to see a commitment of larger federal health transfers.
Horgan made the comment after an event hosted by the B.C. Chamber of Commerce in Vancouver, where he reflected on his legacy.
Horgan says he chose to leave politics after his second battle with cancer and believes he’s one of the few examples of leaders who gets to leave “on his own terms.”
“Despite this being the best job in the universe, I just felt it was time to go,” he said.
“And the good news is that there’s a whole bunch of young people in my caucus that are ready to take on the challenges and I leave confident that we’re in good hands as a province.”
Ahead of the event, an organization of British Columbia Indigenous leaders thanked Horgan for his work passing legislation affirming Indigenous rights and called on Eby to continue efforts toward reconciliation.
The statement from the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs came as Horgan marked his final full day as premier before Eby is sworn in.
Union president Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says passage of the B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act in 2019 would not have been possible without Horgan’s leadership.
Phillip says he and other Indigenous leaders “enjoyed and fully supported” Horgan as premier and “appreciated his ability to bring people together” and connect with First Nations.
The statement says despite a lack of agreement on some issues, such as expansion of liquefied natural gas and conservation of old-growth timber, the union “remains proud of the joint work” that was accomplished.
Horgan was first elected to the legislature in 2005, was acclaimed leader of the B.C. New Democrats in 2014, became premier in 2017 and won re-election in 2020. He successfully battled a second cancer diagnosis the following year and announced in June that he would step down as premier and leader, but would stay on as the representative for Langford-Juan de Fuca.