Diversity key to new BC NDP cabinet: UBC prof
Posted October 27, 2020 12:38 pm.
Last Updated October 27, 2020 12:44 pm.
VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — With seven of his former BC NDP ministers gone – including three women – diversity and representation will be key as B.C. premier-elect John Horgan selects his new cabinet, according to a UBC political scientist.
Equity of gender and experience will be factors as Horgan looks to balance the past and future of the New Democrat Party, Gerry Baier says.
“He’ll rely on some of the older hands that he has still for the more important jobs, but he’ll also recognize it’s time for some renewal in the caucus. He’s not planning his own exit, but he’s thinking ahead — at least 16 years of NDP rule that they want — to be able to have someone who can take over next,” Baier added.
“There will also obviously be a strong sense of gender diversity or balance that he’s done in the past and he has a caucus ready-made for that.”
‘Big shoes to fill’
With a handful of experienced ministers who did not run again, Baier said there are some big shoes to fill. The most important may be the finance portfolio handled by Carole James, who left due to a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis.
“There are openings obviously — there are openings in finance, which is a big one. You have to have a steady hand there. It’s one of the liabilities the NDP’s had in the past, being taken seriously by financial markets and all that sort of stuff. So he’ll want to send a strong single with that — who he picks for finance minister,” Baier said.
The front runners for finance are believed to be Selina Robinson, who was housing minister, and Bruce Ralston, who headed the energy portfolio, or possibly David Eby, who was attorney gereral and minister responsible for ICBC.
Baier expects Adrian Dix to remain as health minister.
“If he wants it. He’s been doing a good job and it’s part of how they got reelected,” Baier said of Dix.
“I think one of the trademarks of the John Horgan cabinet of the first term was putting people he’s known for a long time in places that are tough,” Baier added.
He also said cabinet has to reflect some of the regional diversity that the caucus now has.
“He’ll want people from the Interior, he’ll want people from south of the Fraser, he’ll want people from more traditional Vancouver sources of strength. Just like a federal cabinet has somebody from every province. I think a B.C. cabinet will do that. Geographic representation will be important,” he said.
Baier said one pitfall for an NDP majority government could be members wanting to move towards more social democratic policies.
“There are definitely gonna be people in the party who will want to govern a little bit more to the left, and that’ll be a pitfall for him or a potential place where he’ll really have to exercise some of that authority as premier,” Baier said of Horgan.
“So I would think that they might not be as open to cooperating with the other parties, and they certainly don’t need to because that’s the way majority governments work.”
Resource issues could also pose a problem for the NDP, Baier added.
“There’s a lot of expectation from the more environmental side of the NDP to just slow things down. And they’ll have to respond to that, but at the same time, people in those regions maybe want to see that.”
Baier said the Site C dam project, with environmental and stability concerns, could be trouble for the NDP.
“If it affects people’s hydro bills, that’s the kind of pocketbook issues that the NDP has been talking about since 2017.”
According to Baier, Horgan has said he needs more information on Site C and is expecting to get it in November.
It will be mid-November before all the mail-in ballots are counted, after which the new government will be sworn in.