B.C. premier on vacation, critics slam timing due to wildfires

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The hashtag #whereisHorgan is gaining steam online as many take to social media to speak out against the premier’s absence in recent days, with the opposition harshly criticizing the decision to leave the province as wildfires continue to force thousands to flee their homes.

Sources confirmed to NEWS 1130 on Monday that he is on vacation in Atlantic Canada. His office tells NEWS 1130 that he has been away.

“While spending time with his family away from the office, Premier Horgan has been briefed daily – sometimes several times a day – on the important issues and crises facing British Columbians,” the statement reads.

“During this time, the Premier has been providing direction to his ministers and the public service in order to keep people safe.”

He will be back on Thursday.

The timing of the trip is being questioned by many, as the province remains in a state of emergency as wildfires have forced thousands out of their homes.

Overnight, at least 60 properties were lost north of West Kelowna in the Killiney area, which is popular Okanagan Lake vacation area. Wildfires over the weekend closed the Coquihalla highway, and prompted a rash of new evacuation orders and alerts in the already hard-hit southern Interior. Provincial officials are pleading with people to avoid all  non-essential travel to the area to leave space for evacuees and room for crews to work.

Horgan should be ‘front and centre’: opposition leader

The leader of the official opposition is among those slamming the premier’s decision to leave the province at such a “devastating” time.

Liberal MLA Shirley Bond says it’s not enough that Horgan is getting briefed — he needs to be available and communicating directly with the people of B.C.

“I think most people would expect that when we’re facing the kind of challenge that we are in our province today that the premier would be front and centre, making sure that he is showing leadership during this very difficult time. I think most people were pretty surprised to discover that he was actually on vacation,” she says.

“I think what people need to know right now is that the premier and the government have their back. I think all of us recognize that there are people working on the ground, tirelessly day after day after day trying to save people and property. We need a premier who is present.”

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Bond says she learned that Horgan was on the other side of the country from media reports, and was unable to tell concerned constituents where B.C.’s leader has been.

“I was inundated with questions about where he is and my response was, ‘You’re going to have to ask him because I don’t know,'” she tells NEWS 1130.

“There are going to be a lot of tough questions when this is over.”

On Twitter, many others echo Bond’s concerns, even going so far as to put out a fake missing persons report.

Among the critics is Liberal MLA Peter Milobar, whose Thompson-Kamloops region includes communities threatened by fast-moving wildfires.

He tweeted, “another example of why [the Premier] being actually available during an [State of Emergency] fire season is important. You know who calls the PM on behalf of BC? The Premier! #WhereisHorgan?”

Others are going so far as to call for the premier to resign.

With files from Liza Yuzda and John Ackermann

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