Former NDP premier John Horgan has indicated he will step down as MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca.
Horgan, 63, resigned as B.C.’s 36th premier in late November — after he was successfully treated for throat cancer and had recovered from COVID — saying it was time for a generational change. Premier David Eby, 46, took office on Nov. 18.
The former premier, seated beside Eby on Thursday, gave a spirited and emotional speech in the B.C. legislature that spanned his time in the building, with tales that reached back to his days in Grade 1.
“What an extraordinary opportunity,” he said. “I am so fortunate to have had this opportunity.
“I loved every minute of it."
Horgan’s speech was followed by a standing ovation from MLAs. Afterward, Eby and Liberal MLA Todd Stone and Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau thanked the former premier and spoke about his friendship and service as a politician.
Horgan’s wife, Ellie, was in the gallery, as were many close friends, including his former press secretary Lindsay Byers.
The date of Horgan's departure has not been confirmed, but he told reporters he plans to resign his seat in March.
First elected to the B.C. legislature in 2005 as MLA for Juan de Fuca, Horgan reluctantly became leader of the B.C. NDP in 2014 — acclaimed after Mike Farnworth dropped out of the race — and remained in Opposition until the 2017.
After the B.C. Liberals failed to capture a majority in the spring 2017 election, Horgan signed a confidence and supply agreement with the B.C. Greens and formed an NDP minority government. As premier he called a snap election in the height of the pandemic in 2020 to win a majority government.
Horgan’s popularity — he had a median approval rating of 54 per cent over more than five years as premier, and was the most consistently popular since W.A.C. Bennett in the 1950s and 1960s — has been credited in part due to his everyman appeal.
He led the province through a pandemic, historic floods, wildfires and heat waves and oversaw the elimination of medical services plan premiums, reduction of ICBC rates and adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
However, as he left office as premier, an Angus Reid poll also indicated respondents were highly dissatisfied with the government’s action on homelessness and toxic drug overdose deaths. Those polled said the NDP have done a poor, or very poor job, in three top areas: health care (73 per cent), cost of living and inflation (77 per cent) and housing affordability (85 per cent).
Horgan has cited “regrets,” such as misreading the public mood over the economy with his support for a new $789-million Royal B.C. Museum and its proposed eight-year closure. He cancelled the replacement project and took full responsibility.
Horgan survived bladder cancer in 2008 and in November 2021 had throat cancer diagnosed. He completed radiation in January 2022 with a clean bill of health.