NDP Leader John Horgan gives David Eby a boost in shadow cabinet
Opposition Leader John Horgan has overhauled his party's list of legislature critics, promoting some and leaving others to wonder about where they stand.
Vancouver–Point Grey NDP MLA David Eby was one of the big winners, moving from advanced education to the critic for tourism, housing, liquor policy, B.C. Housing, B.C. Lottery Corporation, B.C. Pavilion Corporation, Destination B.C., and the Liquor Distribution Branch.
As the advanced education critic, Eby exposed how the minister, Amrik Virk, was on the board at Kwantlen Polytechic University when the institution violated the government's salary guidelines.
Eby also revealed how government accounting rules prevent construction of more student housing.
Eby's replacement as the watchdog over advanced education is Burnaby–Deer Lake NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan. She was formerly the party's critic for public safety and solicitor general.
Vancouver–Mount Pleasant NDP MLA Jenny Kwan was stripped of her role as the housing critic earlier this year, but remained listed in this position on the caucus website. She remains the party overseer of Community Living B.C.
Port Coquitlam NDP MLA Mike Farnworth has been shuffled from the high-profile finance-critic position to justice. Here, he'll focus on public safety and the solicitor general ministry.
Farnworth is also house leader.
Former NDP leader Carole James is the new finance critic. She was previously the critic for children and family development.
In appointing James, Horgan has sent a message to those—including former NDP cabinet minister Bob Williams—who lack confidence in her comprehension of economic issues.
In 2010, Williams told the Straight: "I'm sorry, but Ms. James has not shown a real capacity around the economy, and that's a serious problem. It's a very serious problem."
It's worth noting that Horgan remained a James loyalist when her leadership was under assault from Williams and caucus dissidents, including Kwan. Kwan was one of those outed as a critic of James in the notorious yellow-scarves affair in 2010.
So should we be making much of the fact that Horgan has promoted James to finance and left Kwan with Community Living B.C. and nothing else? Probably not, given the political damage that Kwan suffered when her ex-husband rang up questionable expenses at the Portland Hotel Society. She was already a wounded MLA from the party's perspective and it remains to be seen if she'll seek reelection in 2017.
One of the more intriguing appointments was Horgan's decision to name former leader Adrian Dix as the critic for B.C. Hydro.
Dix, a former B.C. Hydro director, understands the inner workings of the Crown corporation. But he was also on the board when B.C. Hydro got involved in a controversial joint-venture project in Pakistan, which immersed the government in scandal.
Expect the B.C. Liberals to have fun with that in the legislature.
Horgan was the party's long-time critic for energy. He's passed the baton on to Columbia River–Revelstoke NDP MLA Norm Macdonald, formerly the critic for forest, lands and natural resource operations.
Macdonald was another of the dissidents who opposed James's leadership in 2010, resigning as caucus chair in protest. He's also the new critic for mines.
Alberni–Pacific Rim NDP MLA Scott Fraser previously had responsibility for mining, rural economic development, and fishing. He's no longer a critic for a purely economic area, moving over to aboriginal relations and reconciliation.
The former aboriginal relations critic, Stikine NDP MLA Doug Donaldson, is now the watchdog over children and family development. His constituency has a large aboriginal population—and aboriginal issues often emerge in connection with this portfolio, given the high number of First Nations kids in government care.
Former woodworkers' union rep Harry Bains, the NDP MLA for Surrey-Newton, is the new critic for forests, lands, and natural resource operations. He was previously overseeing jobs, employment, labour, and WorkSafe B.C.
Even though immigration is a federal responsibility, the NDP has listed two critics for immigration.
Surrey-Whalley NDP MLA Bruce Ralston remains the critic for immigration and multiculturalism. He lost the role of critic for intergovernmental relations, but tacked on trade and natural-gas development. This will keep him in the spotlight.
The former critic for natural-gas development, Robin Austin, is now the critic for northern economic development.
Meanwhile, Burnaby-Lougheed NDP MLA Jane Shin remains the deputy critic for trade, immigration, and multiculturalism. This suggests she'll continue working closely with Ralston.
Vancouver-Hastings NDP MLA Shane Simpson lost his responsibilities for gaming and liquor to Eby. However, Simpson has added economic development, jobs, labour and skills, so this can't be counted as a demotion.
Powell River–Sunshine Coast NDP MLA Nicholas Simons and Saanich South NDP MLA Lana Popham swapped some of their critic areas, with Simons taking over for small business, arts and culture, as well as coastal economic development.
Popham returns to her old role as the critic for agriculture and food.
Nanaimo–North Cowichan NDP MLA Doug Routley has moved from skills training to deputy forests with a responsibility for Forest Futures. He's also takes over from Heyman as critic for citizens services.
Horgan appears to have tried to make the NDP appear more relevant on economic issues by naming critics for geographic areas of the province.
Kootenay West NDP MLA Katrine Conroy, for example, is the critic for interior economic development. That's in addition to keeping her former role as critic for the Columbia River Treaty and Columbia Power.
With Austin overseeing northern economic development, Simons keeping tabs on coastal economic development, and Simpson being responsible for economic development in general, we can expect the Opposition to devote more attention to business issues.
Several NDP MLAs retained their existing critic positions, including Spencer Chandra Herbert (environment), Judy Darcy (health), Leonard Krog (Justice–attorney general), Rob Fleming (education), Selina Robinson (local government and sports), Claire Trevena (transportation and infrastructure and B.C. Ferries), Sue Hammell (mental health and addictions), George Heyman (green economy, technology, and TransLink), Jennifer Rice )northern and rural health, deputy for children and family development), Mable Elmore (ICBC and deputy finance), Doug Routley (deputy critic forestry), Michelle Mungall (social development), and Gary Holman (democratic reform and deputy for environment and B.C. Ferries).
Marine Karagianis remains the critic for women's issues, child care, and early learning. Horgan added "shipbuilding" to her list of responsibilities, which isn't surprising given that she's the NDP MLA for Esquimalt–Royal Roads.
There are 34 NDP MLAs in caucus and only one did not appear on the list of the Opposition shadow cabinet.
Raj Chouhan, the veteran NDP MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds, was not given any critic's position because he's the deputy speaker of the legislature.