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Looking back: John Horgan’s timeline as 36th premier of British Columbia

A look at John Horgan’s rise to power, tumultuous time as B.C.’s 36th premier and beginning of the end for his political career.
John Horgan was sworn in in 2017, returning B.C. to NDP rule after 16 years under the BC Liberals

A look at John Horgan’s rise to power, tumultuous time as B.C.’s 36th premier and beginning of the end for his political career.


Sept. 18
Adrian Dix resigns as NDP leader, five months after losing the provincial election he was expected to win. 


March 17 
Thrice-elected Langford-Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan announces campaign for NDP leadership. 

April 8
Mike Farnworth, Horgan’s only opponent, withdraws. Horgan becomes leader by default.


May 9
For the first time since 1952, a minority government in B.C. Christy Clark’s BC Liberals stay in power with 43 seats. Horgan’s NDP wins 41 seats, including a majority of Surrey ridings on a promise to end Port Mann Bridge tolls. Andrew Weaver’s Greens hold the three-seat balance of power. 

May 28
Horgan and Weaver spotted at the Canada Sevens women’s rugby sevens in Langford. A day later, they confirm speculation that the Greens will support the NDP’s bid to form a new government under a confidence and supply agreement. 

June 29 
NDP and Greens defeat the BC Liberals 44-42 in a confidence vote, 44-42. Horgan visits Government House where Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon asks him to form a new government. 

July 18
Horgan, the lacrosse-loving Langfordian with an Irish temper, is sworn in, returning B.C. to NDP rule after 16 years under the BC Liberals.

July 28
Clark resigns BC Liberal leadership after Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas challenges her to quit. 

Sept. 8 
Plecas becomes speaker. NDP and Greens have a two-seat cushion. 

Sept. 28
NDP introduces bill to ban corporate and union political donations and cap personal donations at $1,200. It also leads to subsidies for parties. 

Oct. 4 
NDP tables bill to move the fixed 2021 election date from May to October. 

Dec. 11
In opposition, Horgan promised to stop the Site C dam. As premier, he orders the megaproject to proceed. Costs rise from $8.8 billion to $10.7 billion.


May 16
BC Liberals say they caught several members of Horgan’s office mass-deleting email.

Nov. 20
BC Liberal-appointed Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz suspended after Plecas calls in the RCMP to investigate corruption. 


May 15
Horgan announces the Cullen Commission public inquiry into money laundering. 

Oct. 24
Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act tabled. B.C. is the first province to adopt the United Nations declaration. 


Feb. 11
Amid nationwide protests against the Coastal GasLink pipeline, protesters surround the Parliament Buildings on Throne Speech Day. A week later, police arrest three protesters for trespassing at Horgan’s house. 

Feb. 17
NDP tables third balanced budget in a row, projecting $59 billion spending. 

March 5
Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Carole James announces she won’t run again, due to Parkinson’s disease. 

March 6
With COVID-19 spreading around the world, Horgan announces B.C.’s pandemic response plan in Vancouver, upstairs from a dental conference that would become a superspreader.

March 17
COVID-19 public health emergency declared in B.C. Horgan says it’ll be the worst St. Patrick’s Day for restaurants and bars. A state of emergency is called the next day. 

March 23
Horgan is among 12 MLAs at an extraordinary sitting to approve a $5 billion emergency spending package. He rises and offers condolences to families of 13 British Columbians dead so far from COVID-19. “At this unique time, partisanship has left the building. People are here to work together with one singular focus. That's the health and well-being of all British Columbians.”

NDP runs a campaign training seminar, hires campaign workers, holds telephone town halls in swing ridings. Fall election talk accelerates.

Sept. 21
Ending weeks of speculation, Horgan visits Lt. Gov. Janet Austin before standing in a Langford cul-de-sac to announce an election for Oct. 24. It’s a year before the scheduled October 2021 election and marks the end of the confidence and supply agreement with the Greens. That agreement said Horgan would not call an early election. 

Oct. 24
Horgan wins a 57-seat majority, a record for the B.C. NDP and the only NDP premier in B.C. to win re-election. 


Feb. 26
After pondering again whether to cancel Site C, Horgan carries on. But the cost is now $16 billion. 

April 20
Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget forecasts a record $9.7 billion deficit and $102.8 billion debt. It includes a $3.3 million-a-year increase to Horgan’s office budget. 

June 9
Amid protests in Horgan’s riding, NDP agrees with three First Nations to defer logging old growth trees in Fairy Creek for two years. 

June 25-July 1
Heat dome brings record temperatures to B.C., kills hundreds of people and a wildfire destroys Lytton. On June 29, Horgan admits his government was preoccupied with ending pandemic restrictions, but is criticized for saying “fatalities are part of life.”

July 21
Horgan finally calls a B.C.-wide state of emergency for wildfires, after being criticized for taking a vacation to Nova Scotia.

Oct. 18
After becoming premier on a promise to improve the province’s freedom of information laws, Horgan’s 2021 NDP tables Bill 22 to weaken the 1993 NDP-introduced law. It includes imposition of application fees. 

Oct. 28
Horgan announces he will undergo surgery for throat cancer, Farnworth becomes deputy premier. 

Nov. 17
State of emergency declared after record rains and floods cause billions of dollars of damage to highways and farmland. NDP imposes temporary gas rations.


Feb. 1
Horgan back to the Legislature after cancer treatments. 

Feb. 5
BC Liberals choose Kevin Falcon as leader. He wins Vancouver-Quilchena by-election on April 29. 

March 25
The month after Russia’s Ukraine invasion, Horgan announces ICBC policyholders will receive $110 payments to cushion the blow from high gas prices.

April 4
Premier’s office announces Horgan tests positive for COVID-19

April 25 
During a Question Period debate over the shortage of family doctors, Horgan ends his testy response to the BC Liberals by exclaiming: “Ah, f***.” 

May 12
Horgan tours Site C for the first time.

May 13
Horgan announces the $789 million Royal B.C. Museum replacement project. He later admits it “landed with a thud.”

June 21
A B.C. Supreme Court judge says Horgan didn’t break the law with the 2020 election. Despite the fixed election date clause, the lieutenant governor has the power to dissolve the legislature when he or she “sees fit.”

June 22
On the same day Statistics Canada says B.C.’s 8.1% inflation rate leads the country, Horgan stops the Royal B.C. Museum project. “I made the wrong call, I made a call when British Columbians were thinking about other concerns.”

June 28
During a caucus retreat at the same Vancouver hotel where he celebrated the 2020 election win, Horgan announces he will retire when the NDP chooses a new leader.

“Thank-you so much for giving me this opportunity British Columbia, It has truly been the thrill of my life, I have done my best to not let you down,” Horgan says.