Today, Premier-designate John Horgan announced that he'll be sworn into office on July 18.
On that date, he's also going to reveal who will be in his cabinet.
It's a mug's game guessing who will become NDP ministers, but hey, it's still a lot of fun to try.
So with no further ado, here are my predictions, including those who will be named as ministers of state.
1. Carole James
Often, parties won't put their opposition shadow critic in charge of the ministry they've been criticizing when they form a government. That's because the critic's comments in opposition can be used against the minister when he or she wants to do something that contradicts what they said in the past. But in the case of James, she could be given the most prestigious position short of becoming premier, which is finance, even though she was the opposition finance critic.
It would be Horgan's way to pay his respect to the NDP MLA whom he so strongly supported as leader in the past. James has demonstrated a fiscally conservative bent in the past, and when she says "no" to ministers' financial demands, they'll know she has the strong backing of the premier. At the same time, Bruce Ralston could also emerge as the finance minister.
2. Bowinn Ma
The North Vancouver–Lonsdale rookie MLA would benefit from some time on the backbenches, but the NDP might still want to advance Bowinn Ma up the ranks. That's because she's the party's only legislator from the North Shore.
A professional engineer, Ma is fluently bilingual in Mandarin and English and has proven to be an adept retail politician. She's formed a strong bond with Iranian Canadians, which is an increasingly important voting bloc for the NDP. Keep in mind there are also many people of Persian ancestry in Coquitlam, which is home to two of the province's most hotly contested seats.
Her parents were Taiwanese immigrants—and this community helped the NDP pull off a sweep in Burnaby. Keep an eye on Ma. She could be a rising political star. If Horgan agrees, she has a reasonable shot at becoming a minister of state or possibly even a full-fledged cabinet minister with her own deputy minister.
3. Raj Chouhan
Many expect Chouhan, the veteran MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds, to become the next speaker. After all, he's already served as deputy speaker and knows the job.
But the NDP is going to have to give Burnaby at least one cabinet post, and possibly two, given the city's strong support for the party in the last election. Chouhan is the only one of the four Burnaby New Democrats who isn't a rookie.
This is why I expect he'll be named to cabinet. It would be easier for Horgan if Vancouver NDP MLAs became the next speaker and deputy speaker.
4. Katrina Chen
The Burnaby-Lougheed MLA has plenty of political experience as a former aide to Chouhan and NDP MP Peter Julian. She was elected to the Burnaby school board in 2014, so she doesn't have as much elected experience as the MLA for Burnaby–Deer Lake, Anne Kang, who's a city councillor.
However, Chen grew up in a political family—her dad was a politician in Taiwan—and she's proven to be a forceful campaigner and organizer for the NDP. In addition, Chen soundly defeated a high-profile B.C. Liberal candidate, Steve Darling, in a constituency that has often gone Liberal.
For these reasons, I won't be surprised if she's rewarded with a junior cabinet post or a minister of state position.
5. Selina Robinson
This is a no-brainer. The feisty Coquitlam-Maillardville NDP MLA and former city councillor is an adept politician.
In fact, along with David Eby, she was one of the key NDP attack dogs against Christy Clark as Horgan rode above the fray and acted like a statesman.
Robinson also represents a constituency in the Tri-Cities, which can make or break a provincial party.
Horgan might even give her one of the more challenging portfolios, like children and family development, because she'll be better than most in fending off B.C. Liberal attacks.
6. Ravi Kahlon
He's a rookie MLA, but he's no newcomer to provincial politics, having worked for the NDP caucus. The former Olympic field hockey star and Delta North MLA is close to Horgan and he represents a constituency that has swung back and forth between the Liberals and the NDP.
Kahlon is a pragmatic, less ideological New Democrat, which makes him a good fit in a government that will be run by Horgan. Kahlon will also get along with other major power brokers in this government, including James, Adrian Dix, Geoff Meggs, Harry Bains, Bruce Ralston, and, possibly, Moe Sihota.
7. Katrine Conroy
The Kootenay West MLA was part of the group that wanted James replaced as leader in 2010, which might harm her chances.
At the same time, she's widely respected and is one of a small number of NDP MLAs not from the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island. Horgan will need to show that his cabinet isn't too urban, which means Conroy will probably make the cut.
8. Bob D'Eith
The Maple Ridge–Mission MLA barely won his seat, so Horgan has an interest in boosting his profile. D'Eith is an entertainment lawyer and has been a champion of arts and culture. Giving him a role in arts policy would be a smart move on Horgan's part.
9. Scott Fraser
Horgan is going to need to put some of his Vancouver Island MLAs in cabinet, and Fraser would be a good choice. The MLA for Mid Island–Pacific Rim has a constituency that includes a vibrant tourism sector, forestry, and a strong environmental ethic. Coming from this part of the island, he's well aware of the importance of maintaining a good relationship between indigenous and nonindigenous peoples.
Fraser is a former Tofino mayor and he's worked on oil rigs. He could be a useful spokesperson for the government as it defends its opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Fraser endorsed Horgan's run for the NDP leadership in 2011 when many caucus members backed the eventual winner, Dix, or his chief rival, Mike Farnworth. In addition, Fraser was not part of the gang of 13 MLAs who wanted to oust James—unlike fellow Vancouver Island NDP MLAs Leonard Krog, Claire Trevena, and Doug Routley.
10. Michelle Mungall
The Nelson-Creston MLA is a surefire bet to join the cabinet for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is her constituency, which is far from Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island. She's been an effective critic for the Ministry of Social Development. She led the successful charge to force the B.C. Liberals to reverse their clawback on family-maintenance payments to recipients of social assistance.
11. Judy Darcy
The MLA for New Westminster and former CUPE national president is a fairly safe bet, given her deep union roots, her close working relationship with the party's Horgan-Dix faction, and her ability to respond to questions under pressure.
She might not get the health ministry, for which she has been the critic, but she could become the minister of labour. With Chouhan and Chen, it would give the NDP three cabinet ministers in the important Burnaby–New Westminster corridor, which is far more representation than this area ever had in cabinet under the B.C. Liberals.
12. Mike Farnworth
Even though Farnworth ran against Horgan and Dix for the party leadership—and was supported by many greenish New Democrats with concerns about Dix and Horgan—the Port Coquitlam MLA is still a shoo-in. He's the only NDP MLA with cabinet experience and he's a sharp and often funny debater in the legislature.
13. Rob Fleming
At least two Victoria-area MLAs will get into cabinet and after James, Fleming is probably the next best bet.
One of the caucus's greener MLAs, he could offset criticism from environmentalists that this NDP government tilts too far in favour of organized labour at the expense of protecting the environment.
Another greenish NDP MLA from the capital region, Lana Popham, could miss the cut because she was part of the group that wanted to bring James down as leader in 2010. Horgan is also a Victoria-area MLA, representing the outer suburb of Langford–Juan de Fuca, so with Fleming and James, the region would have three members in cabinet.
14. Jennifer Rice
Horgan is going to be desperate to have as many cabinet ministers as possible from the 250 area code on the mainland. The NDP's desire for gender balance in cabinet probably favours Jennifer Rice, the MLA for North Coast, over Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, though both could get the call from northwestern B.C.
A long-time environmentalist, Rice is a former Prince Rupert city councillor.
Donaldson took over from Horgan as the shadow critic for energy and mining and has been the critic for children and families. He could help the NDP retain the support of indigenous people, given the large indigenous population in his constituency, even if he's appointed as a parliamentary secretary to the minister for indigenous issues.
15. Harry Bains
The former woodworkers' union rep helped quarterback the party's successful strategy in Surrey, which was crucial in the NDP forming government. Expect Bains to receive a senior cabinet post and continue being the party's foremost ambassador to first-generation immigrants from South Asia.
16. Gary Begg
The former RCMP inspector is a fresh face in provincial politics, but he also has nearly 40 years of policing experience. I'm putting him in the NDP cabinet, perhaps as solicitor general.
While some ex-cops have not enjoyed a great deal of success in politics after being elected (think Kash Heed, Amrik Virk, and Julian Fantino), others, such as Rich Coleman, have fared extraordinarily well.
Horgan has a conservative side and appointing Begg to cabinet will send a message that the premier is as interested in law and order as he is in making life more affordable for hard-working families. Begg would also be a tremendous salesperson for harm-reduction measures, given his long policing career.
17. Jinny Sims
Surrey is going to get at least three cabinet ministers, but there could even be a fourth—particularly if Horgan is concerned about gender balance in cabinet.
The Surrey-Panorama MLA isn't a sure bet. That's because as president of the B.C. Teachers' Federation, she rubbed some in the labour movement the wrong way by how far she was willing to go in defying the B.C. Liberal government.
She was also slaughtered in Surrey-Newton in the 2015 federal election, which some took as a sign that she didn't retain the loyalty of that riding's large South Asian community. And in 2014, Sims didn't get behind the Surrey mayoral candidacy of Barinder Rasode, unlike Bains and then NDP MLA Sue Hammell.
Today, Bains might be in a position to veto Sims's appointment to cabinet—though nobody in the NDP would ever admit that publicly. On balance, I'm betting Sims gets into cabinet, given the importance of the BCTF to the NDP over the years.
18. Bruce Ralston
The former NDP president is going straight into cabinet, likely in a very senior portfolio. The Surrey-Whalley MLA could be the next finance minister if James wants a less challenging job. This would be good news for Surrey because Ralston would be in a good position to ensure that the city is well-looked after.
There is some resentment in Surrey that Vancouver is always first in line for political pork, including a $500-million stadium upgrade, an $883-million convention centre, and new rapid-transit lines. Ralston is going to ensure that Surrey will receive its fair share in the future.
He could also introduce changes to the tax system that would benefit a city with far more working people and far fewer executives per capita than Vancouver or the North Shore.
19. Mable Elmore
The Vancouver-Kensington NDP MLA is much admired by former leader Dix, who works closely with Horgan. Elmore also took on Jenny Kwan for the federal NDP nomination in Vancouver East, which probably delighted James. That's because Kwan was the spokesperson in the caucus revolt against James's leadership. In fact, Elmore was one of the NDP MLAs who was part of the campaign to counter the dissidents.
In addition, Elmore has been a deputy critic reporting to James, and Elmore has been a tireless party organizer, particularly with Philippine Canadians.
Elmore also has a strong labour background, which means she'll have no problem with the concept of cabinet solidarity. Some in the media might be surprised if Elmore gets into cabinet, but I won't be.
20. Adrian Dix
He's been very close to Horgan dating back to the 1990s. Dix has a passion for the public health-care system, so he could become B.C.'s next health minister. This would put him in charge of about 45 percent of the provincial budget.
21. Melanie Mark
Even though she's relatively inexperienced, the Vancouver–Mount Pleasant MLA has really shone. She's a favourite of many progressive New Democrats and putting her in cabinet would be celebrated by indigenous residents across the province. She has a pleasant demeanour, but she can also be tough, having been mentored for many years by the former advocate for children and youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
22. David Eby
The Vancouver–Point Grey MLA played a major role with the NDP opposition, overseeing some of the most complicated files, including housing and gambling. He repeatedly hammered the B.C. Liberals, cementing a view among a significant number of British Columbians that corruption has become a big problem. That helped the NDP win support from people who ordinarily wouldn't vote for the party.
If I were a betting man, I would put money on Eby becoming B.C.'s next attorney general, notwithstanding all the years that Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog spent as the critic in this area. Had Krog not joined the rebellion against James in 2010, I wouldn't be writing these words.
23. Spencer Chandra Herbert
The Vancouver–West End MLA would be a great tourism minister because he understands how arts and culture can be leveraged to boost the economy. He's also beloved within the LGBT and arts communities. The biggest barrier to him getting into cabinet is the number eight—there are eight NDP MLAs from Vancouver, including six men.
Two of those men, Shane Simpson and George Heyman are arguably more qualified on paper for the Horgan crowd, given their lengthy history with the party and their previous work for unions.
Here's an out-of-the-box idea: Horgan comes up with more important roles for Simpson and Heyman. He appoints them as speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.
The choice of speaker is going to be crucial in a legislature with a one-seat majority. Simpson is very qualified for this role and he would enjoy a $50,000 pay hike without facing the rigours of being in cabinet.
Heyman could be the deputy speaker and also serve as the NDP's liaison to the B.C. Green caucus, which is going to be a full-time job, given the terms of the agreement between the parties.
Heyman has enormous respect within environmental circles. He has a great deal of experience as a negotiator. He's mature and composed, which makes him a good candidate to deal with B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver.
What's wrong with this picture?
It's a large cabinet but it also meets the diversity test: two MLAs of Taiwanese ancestry who speak Mandarin, four MLAs of South Asian heritage, one Métis MLA, one indigenous MLA, and the only MLA of Philippine ancestry. Nearly 40 percent of the cabinet would be of Asian or aboriginal heritage, a first in B.C. history. It also includes two long-time champions of the LGBT community (Elmore and Chandra Herbert).
This cabinet falls slightly short on gender equality, with 11 women and 12 men. Substitute D'Eith with Saanich South NDP MLA Lana Popham and gender parity would be achieved. But it could come at the cost of the crucial Maple Ridge–Mission seat in the next election—something Horgan doesn't want to lose.
Putting the more experienced Popham in cabinet would, however, offer comfort to greenish New Democrats because of her advocacy for B.C.'s agricultural sector.
This cabinet may be too heavily laden with Vancouver MLAs—and if Horgan feels no more than four can get in, it might result in Chandra Herbert or Elmore serving in more junior roles. Simpson would likely be ahead of both of them in the line should Horgan prefer to name Chouhan as the speaker.
But even this makeup is still more gender balanced than any other cabinet in B.C. history. This is true even as the only fluent Cantonese speaker in the NDP caucus, George Chow, would remain on the backbenches.
And there are lots of young faces, including Ma, Eby, Kahlon, Mungall, Chen, Mark, and Chandra Herbert. Some of the caucus's most adept social-media users are also in this cabinet—notably Robinson, Eby, Ma, Bains, and Chandra Herbert.
All things considered, this would help dampen perceptions that the NDP is a party of old fogeys. And that would help the party's organizational capabilities moving forward.
Some of the veterans aren't included, including Nicholas Simons, and perhaps I was too quick to count him out. But I don't underestimate the long-term effects of the attempt to push out James—and how this could play out in Horgan's cabinet choices nearly seven years later.