John Horgan is flanked by two prominent MLAs at swearing-in ceremony in May. Selina Robinson (left) is a likely pick for the new minister for mental health and addictions, and former B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jinny Sims (right) is a contender for education minister. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Heat on John Horgan to deliver on his promises

ANALYSIS: Bridge tolls, ferries among low-hanging fruit

After weeks of frustration at the slow change of government in B.C., premier-designate John Horgan has little time to spare in starting to deliver on his long list of campaign promises.

Even before appointing a cabinet and being officially sworn in, Horgan faces two big challenges: hiring and retaining senior staff to work with a fragile minority, and showing immediate results on the sweeping changes he has spent a decade demanding.

Horgan’s own stated priorities include visiting Ottawa and Washington D.C. to make the case for a new lumber trade deal with the U.S., but this is mainly public relations. It’s a federal matter, everything that can be done is being done, and Donald Trump’s U.S. is targeting B.C.’s existing log export restrictions.

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark had her own suggestion for Horgan at Canada Day events in Kelowna. “It’s a good idea to expand child care, but we will have the ability to amend any bills they bring forward,” Clark said.

Legislation of any kind isn’t likely to begin until after Labour Day, but some of Horgan’s promises need only money. In the near term that’s not difficult, with a surplus estimated at $2.8 billion turned over by outgoing B.C. Liberal finance minister Mike de Jong.

Horgan will take pleasure in presiding over the demise of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges. Spending the B.C. Liberal “fantasy fund” set up for natural gas export revenues will make it sweeter, and put off budget impact for at least a year.

BC Ferries offer another pleasant task that doesn’t weigh heavily on the budget. The NDP promised to cut fares by 15 per cent on minor routes, and reinstate free travel for seniors from Monday to Thursday, popular moves that leave the money-making major routes undisturbed.

Two of Horgan’s promises have self-imposed deadlines. The first is a mandatory fall sitting of the legislature, which is now dictated by events after the long wait for an election result. The surplus makes it relatively easy to impose a budget update with boosts to housing and education spending, leaving the heavy lifting of increasing taxes on high-income earners and business for a full budget next February.

The other self-imposed deadline is for a referendum on electoral reform, a key demand of B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver in exchange for his support on “supply and confidence” votes.

The referendum is to be held with next year’s municipal elections, which have a turnout around a third of eligible voters. That is set for November 2018, and Horgan’s main challenge will be to have his government survive that long.

Just Posted

More parking meters vandalized in downtown Trail

City of Trail: The parking meters parts budget had been overspent by $26,000 at the end of July

Trail councillors will all be acclaimed

One Trail candidate has withdrawn, leaving six remaining candidates to fill the six council seats

Under the Trail big top

The Trail Sk8 Park broke ground in July, completion is expected next month

RCMP: Trail wildfire investigation continues

The fire broke out behind KBRH the late afternoon of Sept. 11

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it to editor@trailtimes.ca

Fashion Fridays: Rock some animal print

Kim XO, lets you in on the latest fall fashion trends on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. doctor weighs in on the kid ‘screen time’ debate

A Maple Ridge mother opens up about her children’s use of tablets, smartphones and television

B.C. councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

Legal society poster seeks complainants against two cops on Downtown Eastside

Pivot Legal Society became aware of allegations made against the officers after a video circulated

Jury to deliberate in case of Calgary man accused of murdering woman

Curtis Healy could be convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter

House arrest for man who abused disabled B.C. woman, then blamed her

‘Groomed complainant’ and ‘violated position of trust,’ judge says

Liberals want to know what Canadians think of legalized weed

The federal government will comb social media for Canadians’ pot-related behaviour

Most Read