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Premier John Horgan wants to appeal to rural British Columbians

Premier John Horgan swearing in cabinet - Nov. 26, 2020
Premier John Horgan addresses B.C. during the 2020 swearing-in ceremony for cabinet ministers. (via Flickr/Province of B.C.)

With the majority of the BC NDP's seats in the Legislature coming from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, Premier John Horgan says he'd like to reach out to more rural British Columbians over the next four years.

When all was said and done with B.C.'s 2020 general election, Horgan's NDP was left with 57 seats to the Liberals 28 and the Greens two. And while the NDP's Harwinder Sandhu flipped the Vernon-Monashee riding, in one of the tightest races in the province, and the NDP's Rolly Russell took the Boundary-Similkameen riding from the Liberals, most of rural B.C. stayed with the Liberals.

“One of the disappointments for me coming out of the October general election was only seeing a new member in Vernon-Monashee and a new member in Boundary-Similkameen from rural British Columbia,” Horgan said Thursday (Nov. 26).

“I spent a lot of my energies working on issues around resource development which is so critically important in rural British Columbia.”

Horgan noted he has strong relationships with local mayors across the province's Interior and North.

“I believe the elected leadership at local government levels are prepared to work with me as I am with them, and that's where I get the best inputs on how best to meet the challenges in rural British Columbia,” Horgan said.

“As the BC Liberals have challenges in urban British Columbia, New Democrats need to work harder to make sure that our message is resonating in rural B.C. Perhaps Shirley [Bond, interim Liberal leader] and I will cross paths at the airport when I'm going north and she's coming south.

The Interior, particularly the Okanagan, has long been a Liberal stronghold, and Norm Letnick, Ben Stewart, Renee Merrifield and Dan Ashton all won decisive victories for the Liberals in the Okanagan.

Besides Vernon-Monashee and Boundary-Similkameen, the only other ridings outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island the NDP took was Kootenay West, Nelson-Creston and the Stikine riding in the north.

As such, the bulk of Horgan's cabinet, announced Thursday, come from the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Katrine Conroy, representing Kootenay West, was made minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development, while Nathan Cullen, from the Stikine riding, was appointed the more junior role of minister of state for lands and natural resource operations.