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Horgan to step down as premier ahead of 2024 election

"My health is good but my energy flags as the days go by"
Premier John Horgan announcing his resignation (via Facebook).

Premier John Horgan says he will be stepping down from the position this fall.

In a webcast Tuesday afternoon, Horgan said that with the governing New Democrats having reached the half-way point of their current mandate it was time for him to make a decision on whether he should continue on for another term.

Horgan said he has now beaten cancer twice but after talking to his wife, Ellie, and his colleagues, he came to the conclusion that it's time to step down.

"My health is good but my energy flags as the days go by and I will not be able to make another six-year commitment to this job," he said.

He said he will be working with the party's president and governing council to hold a leadership convention sometime this fall.

Talk of Horgan stepping down has been a topic for weeks now and reached a boiling point with the controversy over the since-scuttled plan to replace the Royal B.C. Museum. 

Asked if that played a role in his decision to step down, Horgan said there was no connection.

He said he's confident a replacement can be found among the NDP's group of "young, dynamic leaders."

"Why I'm here is because I want to stop the speculation and get back to the issues that matter to British Columbians," he said.

Mike Morris, the B.C. Liberal MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie said Horgan's announcement was "not unexpected."

"After the health issues he's gone through, it gives pause to kind of look at what you want to do with the rest of your life," Morris said.

From looming public sector bargaining to issues related to health care to the affordability crisis to crime, Morris said there are plenty of issues for MLAs to tackle and hopes the NDP will continue to adhere to the legislative schedule which calls for a sitting this fall.

"The fact that he's stepping down is something that the NDP will have to deal with by themselves but we still have to look after the province," Morris said.

Bobby Deepak, who ran for the NDP in Prince George-Mackenzie in the 2017, said the news was a "bit surprising." 

"He's leaving on a high note, which is always good," Deepak said.

To the extent he has thought about it, Deepak said Ravi Kahlon and David Eby would be good candidates for the position.

Kahlon is the Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation and the MLA for Delta North. Eby is the Attorney General and MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey.

College of New Caledonia political science instructor Chris Beach said Horgan has arguably been the most successful NDP premier in B.C. history, "winning two terms, and enjoying consistently high public approval ratings, all while maintaining party and caucus solidarity, which often isn’t an easy task to accomplish in itself."

Horgan's announcement came after a two-day cabinet retreat in Vancouver. 

Horgan, 62, announced last November that he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He said he is now free of cancer after 35 radiation treatments but probably returned to work too soon after completing treatments in January.

He was also diagnosed with bladder cancer in his 40s.

Horgan led the NDP to a minority government in 2017, followed by a majority in 2020.

He is the first B.C. premier in 36 years to step away from office without facing an internal revolt, deal-breaking scandal or facing defeat.

- with files from Cindy Harnett, Glacier Media

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