John Horgan

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John Horgan

John Horgan 2015.jpg
36th Premier of British Columbia
Assumed office
July 18, 2017
MonarchElizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorJudith Guichon
Janet Austin
DeputyCarole James
Preceded byChristy Clark
Leader of the Opposition in British Columbia
In office
May 4, 2014 – July 18, 2017
Preceded byAdrian Dix
Succeeded byChristy Clark
Leader of the BC New Democratic Party
Assumed office
May 4, 2014
Preceded byAdrian Dix
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Malahat-Juan de Fuca
In office
May 17, 2005 – May 12, 2009
Preceded byBrian Kerr
Succeeded byriding dissolved
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Juan de Fuca
In office
May 12, 2009 – May 9, 2017
Preceded byriding established
Succeeded byriding dissolved
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Langford-Juan de Fuca
Assumed office
May 9, 2017
Preceded byriding established
Official Opposition House Leader
In office
April 26, 2011 – March 18, 2014
Preceded byMike Farnworth
Succeeded byBruce Ralston
Opposition Energy Critic
In office
April 26, 2011 – March 18, 2014
Preceded byDoug Donaldson
Personal details
John Joseph Horgan

(1959-08-07) August 7, 1959 (age 60)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Political partyBritish Columbia New Democratic
Spouse(s)Ellie Horgan
Alma materTrent University (BA, 1983)
University of Sydney (MA, 1986)
OccupationPublic servant, consultant

John Joseph Horgan (born August 7, 1959) is a Canadian politician serving as the 36th and current premier of British Columbia since 2017. He has been Leader of the British Columbia New Democratic Party since 2014 and the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005.

He was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia.[1] In June 2006, he was appointed the Official Opposition Critic for the Ministry of Energy and Mines in New Democrat leader Carole James' shadow cabinet, having previously served as the Official Opposition Critic for the Ministry of Education. In January 2011, he announced his candidacy for leadership of the BC NDP in the 2011 leadership election, finishing third.

Following the leadership election, he was appointed the Official Opposition Critic for Energy, and Opposition House Leader,[2] he was replaced by Bruce Ralston as Opposition House Leader following his entry into the 2014 leadership election.

On March 17, 2014, he announced his candidacy in the 2014 leadership election,[3] with the slogan "Real Leadership. For All BC".[4] During the campaign he talked at length about the necessity of balancing the need for jobs and resource development, while protecting BC's natural environment.[5] Horgan was acclaimed to the position on May 1, 2014 and was officially inaugurated as party leader on May 5, 2014.[6]

In the 2017 provincial election held on May 9, 2017, Premier Christy Clark's Liberal government was reduced to 43 seats, one seat short of a majority. On May 29, 2017, it was announced that the NDP and Green Party of British Columbia had reached a confidence and supply agreement in which the Greens would support an NDP minority government for four years.[7] Clark recalled the legislature in the coming weeks to seek its confidence in a Liberal government. Following a non-confidence motion on June 29, 2017, which was won (44–42) by the combined votes of the NDP and Green members, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon turned down Clark's request for a snap election and invited the NDP to form a minority government. Subsequently, Horgan succeeded Clark as the premier of British Columbia. Horgan is the first NDP premier of the province since Ujjal Dosanjh in 2001.

Early life and career[edit]

Horgan was born on August 7, 1959 in Victoria, British Columbia, the son of Alice May (Clutterbuck) and Pat Horgan.[8][9][10] Horgan's father died when he was 18 months old, leaving his mother to raise him along with his three siblings,[11] he worked multiple jobs to save money for university, including at a pulp mill in Ocean Falls. Horgan earned a Bachelor of Arts from Trent University (Ontario) in 1983. and married Ellie in 1984; the couple has two sons.

He waited tables at the Keg in Victoria before earning his master's degree in history from the University of Sydney in 1986. Returning to Canada he went to Ottawa and worked as a legislative assistant to James Manly and later to Lynn Hunter. Horgan returned to Victoria in 1991 and became Ministerial Assistant to Dave Zirnhelt. In 1993 he was named Analyst, Policy Coordination Branch, Ministry of Government Services, and in 1996, Director at the Cabinet Policy and Communications Secretariat, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations, his positions from 1991 through 1998 saw him assume increasing responsibilities within government, including lead negotiator on the Columbia Basin Trust and as a participant on teams for the Columbia River Treaty and Land Use Plans. In 1998 he worked as a Director in the Crown Corporations Secretariat before going on to work at Columbia Power as Director of Corporate Affairs, focusing on getting Keenleyside and Brilliant dams repowered. In 1999 he was appointed Chief of Staff in the Office of Premier Dan Miller, his last job in government was at the level of Associate Deputy Minister working in the Ministry of Finance on energy projects. Following the change of government in 2001, Horgan created a small business that focused on policy, management, research and government liaison work.[12]

38th Parliament[edit]

As the 2005 provincial election was approaching, the 45 year old Horgan won the NDP nomination against Julie Thomas of Shawnigan Lake in the riding of Malahat-Juan de Fuca;[13] the incumbent MLA Brian Kerr was not seeking re-election, so in the general election Horgan faced BC Liberal Cathy Basskin of Cowichan Bay, Democratic Reform BC party leader Tom Morino, Green Party candidate Steven Hurdle, and Western Canada Concept candidate Pattie O'Brien. Though Horgan won his riding, the NDP under Carole James's leadership formed the official opposition to the BC Liberals who formed an absolute majority government. Horgan was named opposition critic to the Minister of Education Shirley Bond. Horgan criticized the government's 2005 Teachers' Collective Agreement Act which legislated a new contract onto teachers, after several months of unsuccessful collective bargaining, as " [inflaming] an already volatile situation".[14] In June 2006, Horgan was named critic to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resource, Richard Neufeld. Horgan called for the Oil and Gas Commission to provide more transparent reporting after it was claimed its annual 97% compliance rating was near-perfect, despite 2,500 known infractions, the majority of which were rated major or serious.[15] Following a sudden sharp increase in gasoline prices in early 2007 Horgan introduced the Retail Petroleum Consumer Protection Act as a private member bill which, if passed, would have put gasoline prices under the jurisdiction of the B.C. Utilities Commission, same as electricity and natural gas.[16] The bill was supported by an 18,000-signature petition[17] and elicited editorial responses from Minister Neufeld and Christy Clark.[18][19]

In January 2007 Horgan accused Premier Gordon Campbell of conflict-of-interest, due to owning shares of Alcan while signing an order-in-council approving an agreement between Alcan and BC Hydro which was subsequently overturned by the Utilities Commission as being not in the public interest;[20] the Ethic Commissioner cleared Campbell of wrongdoing but made a recommendation that cabinet ministers and other senior officials place their assets in blind trusts.[21] Horgan subsequently introduced this recommendation as the private member bill Members' Conflict of Interest Amendment Act in the third and fourth sessions and, similar but more comprehensive bill, in line with the Federal Accountability Act, but they were not advanced beyond first reading.[22]

In Fall 2008, Horgan was diagnosed with bladder cancer and underwent treatment surgery to remove it. Following a legislative amendment that immediately increased MLA salaries by 29%, Horgan, along with all other NDP MLAs, donated the increase to charities in his riding such as hospices and food banks, for the remainder of the 38th Parliament.[23][24][25]

39th Parliament[edit]

Horgan was acclaimed as the NDP candidate for the 2009 election in the Juan de Fuca riding, he easily defeated Colwood mayor Jody Twa of the BC Liberals and Metchosin farmer James Powell of the Green Party. In the 39th Parliament the NDP again formed the official opposition to the BC Liberals who formed their third consecutive absolute majority government. Party leader Carole James kept Horgan as energy and mines critic. Horgan was critical of the government over-turning the BC Utilities Commission's decision on obtaining electricity from independent power producers[26] and exempting the Site C dam and the northwest transmission line projects from Utilities Commission review, arguing that the projects were not in the public interest.[27] Horgan linked the government's imposition of private IPP electricity purchasing agreements on BC Hydro and the exemption of BC Utilities Commission review of major public projects (including the smart meter implementation program)[28] to increases in BC Hydro rates.[29][30] Horgan responded to the government's energy plan with an editorial[31][32] to which Minister Blair Lekstrom responded,[33][34] he presented to the legislature a declaration of opposition to the Site C, as signed by Peace River area residents and First Nations.[35]

During criticism of party leader Carole James, Horgan remained loyal.[36] Following her resignation, the 51-year-old Horgan put himself forward for the leadership position. Policy platforms he campaigned on included a comprehensive review of laxatives under a Fair Tax Commission,[37] expanding the carbon tax to include the exempted large industrial emitters,[38] getting the Evergreen Line and light rail to the Western Communities built, implementing the recommendations of the Select Standing Committee on Aquaculture, continuing the ban on North Coast tanker traffic and offshore oil exploration, and introducing an Endangered Species Act,[39] he was endorsed by Robin Austin, Gary Coons, Kathy Corrigan, Scott Fraser, Maurine Karagianis, Bill Routley, Shane Simpson, and Claire Trevena, as well as Harry Lali[40] and Nicholas Simons[41] after they dropped out of the race. Opinion polling placed Horgan in third behind Adrian Dix and Mike Farnworth, but seen as a suitable compromise candidate between the party's preferred stronger candidate of Dix and the more likable Farnworth.[42][43][44] Dix went on to win and assigned Horgan back to the role of critic for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources which Doug Donaldson had overseen during the leadership election, as well as adding house leader to his duties.[45]

40th Parliament and Opposition Leader[edit]

In the 2013 election Horgan again won the Juan de Fuca riding, this time against BC Liberal candidate and Sooke councillor Kerrie Reay and Green Party candidate Carlos Serra. On the local level, his campaign focused on transportation issues[46] and regional growth[47] while on the provincial campaign he promised a comprehensive review of BC Hydro, in particular its debt load, commitments to independent power producers, and future infrastructure requirements,[48] and advocated a market-driven approach to creating a liquefied natural gas industry, in contrast to the BC Liberal approach, at the time, of presenting expressions of interest as committed future revenue;[49] the NDP were favoured to win the general election but, while Horgan won his riding, the party again formed the official opposition with Horgan returning to his role as critic for the energy portfolio in the 40th Parliament. Shortly after the election, Horgan and Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett exchanged op-eds regarding new BC Hydro rate increases and cost overruns in the Northwest Transmission line project.[50][51]

"I've been shaped by the people I've met along the way. I've had great role models and I've had great mentors and a little bit of good luck. Now as a leader in a political movement I want to pay that forward." –John Horgan[52]

In September 2013, Dix announced his resignation as NDP leader and both Horgan and Farnsworth were immediately considered front-runners to replace him. A month later Horgan stated his intention not to run and encouraged the younger NDP MLAs, such as David Eby, Spencer Chandra Herbert and Rob Fleming, to enter the leadership race.[53] However, by January 2014 only Mike Farnworth announced an intention to run.[54] With Farnworth formally declaring his candidacy in early March 2014,[55] Horgan was urged to re-considered; the 54-year old Horgan announced his candidacy on March 17 backed by Carole James, Maurine Karagianis and Bill Routley.[56] David Eby and Michelle Mungall endorsed him and co-chaired his campaign[57] and within a week 15 MLAs endorsed him.[58] In early April, with Horgan receiving further endorsements from Dawn Black, Joe Trasolini and Fin Donnelly – all figures from Farnworth's Tri-Cities-area,[59] Farnworth withdrew from the leadership race, leaving Horgan the sole candidate.[60] After the deadline for nominations passed on May 1, Horgan was acclaimed leader of the BC NDP, he appointed Farnsworth as opposition house leader, with Mungall as his deputy and critic of social development,[61] and split his old position of critic position into three parts divided between Norm Macdonald as critic of energy and mines, Bruce Ralston on natural gas, Dix on BC Hydro, as well as charging the younger MLAs with significant portfolios, like Rob Fleming with education, Spencer Chandra Herbert with environment, and David Eby with eight specific critic responsibilities.[62]

Just prior to becoming leader, the parliament's second session, Horgan introduced two private member bills, the Standing Committee Reform Act, 2014 (Bill M-203) that would have expanded the scope of their terms of reference and required they be appointed at the beginning of each parliament with membership in proportion to party standings, and the Parliamentary Calendar Act, 2014 (Bill M-204) that would have legislated that the parliament must convene in the Spring and Fall of each year. After he became leader, these two bills were re-introduced by NDP critic on democratic reform Gary Holman in the fourth session (2015); as leader, Horgan introduced three bills, all in the fifth session: the Hydro Affordability Act, 2016 (Bill M-206) that would allow the Utilities Commission to require a utility to offer a 'lifeline rate' to low-income households, the Speculator Tracking and Housing Affordability Fund Act, 2016 (Bill M-209) that would have allowed participating jurisdictions that levy a 2% property tax on residential properties held vacant for use in affordable housing initiatives, and Campaign Finance Reform Act, 2016 (Bill M-213) that would ban corporations and unions from making financial political contributions and require the chief electoral officer review and provide recommendations regarding the financing of the political process. In the sixth session Horgan introduced the Get Big Money Out of Politics Act, 2017 which would ban union and corporate donations to political campaigns, prohibit political contributions from foreigners, and prohibit the premier and ministers from receiving second salaries.[63]

Premier of British Columbia[edit]

2017 election and confidence and supply agreement[edit]

The 2017 election resulted in a hung parliament, with the NDP winning 41 seats to the Liberals' 43; the balance of power rested with the BC Greens, who won three seats.

On May 29, Horgan and Greens leader Andrew Weaver announced that the Greens would provide confidence and supply to an NDP minority government. Both parties' caucuses endorsed the agreement the next day;[64] the NDP–Green alliance commanded 44 seats, a bare majority. In response, Clark announced that she would seek the confidence of the newly elected Legislative Assembly to stay on as premier, while conceding she would likely lose a confidence vote.[65]

The new Legislative Assembly convened on June 22.[66] On June 28, Horgan introduced a no-confidence motion as an amendment to the Speech from the Throne; the amendment passed the next day by a margin of 44–42, bringing Clark's government down–the first time that a BC government has been defeated in the legislature.[67] Clark then resigned, and advised Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and call fresh elections. Guichon refused, and instead invited Horgan to form a government,[68] which took office on July 18.[69]

On September 8, 2017, Darryl Plecas was acclaimed Speaker of the Legislative Assembly (leading to his expulsion from the Liberals), which—along with the support of Green Party MLAs—provided Horgan's NDP minority government a working majority in the Legislative Assembly.[70]

Electoral results[edit]

2017 British Columbia general election: Langford-Juan de Fuca
Party Candidate Votes %
New Democratic John Horgan 12,144 52.78
Liberal Cathy Noel 6,062 26.35
Green Brendan Ralfs 4,341 18.87
Libertarian Scott Burton 238 1.03
Vancouver Island Party Willie Nelson 222 0.96
Total valid votes 23,007 100.00
Source: Elections BC[71]
2013 British Columbia general election: Juan de Fuca
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic John Horgan 12,338 53.32 -3.89 $97,977
Liberal Kerrie Reay 7,120 30.77 -3.33 $19,846
Green Carlos Serra 3,682 15.91 +7.22 $812
Total valid votes 23,140 100.00
Total rejected ballots 91 0.39
Turnout 23,231 58.07
Source: Elections BC[72]
2009 British Columbia general election: Juan de Fuca
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
New Democratic John Horgan 11,520 57.21 $73,822
Liberal Jody Twa 6,866 34.10 $149,286
Green James Powell 1,749 8.69 $1,635
Total valid votes 20,135 100
Total rejected ballots 107 0.53
Turnout 20,242 59.87
2005 British Columbia general election: Malahat-Juan de Fuca
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
New Democratic John Horgan 12,460 46.09 $42,953
Liberal Cathy Basskin 10,528 38.94 $24,538
Green Steven Hurdle 2,610 9.65 $1,488
Democratic Reform Tom Morino 1,256 4.65 $2,775
Western Canada Concept Pattie O'Brien 180 0.67 $100
Total valid votes 27,034 100
Total rejected ballots 128 0.47
Turnout 27,162 69.57

Personal life[edit]

Horgan met his wife Ellie Horgan in 1979 while studying at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, they have two sons together.[73] In the 2000s, Horgan was diagnosed with bladder cancer.[73]


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External links[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
Janet Austin
as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Order of precedence in British Columbia
as of 2018
Succeeded by
Robert J. Bauman
as Chief Justice of British Columbia