After two bouts of cancer and five years in the premier's office, John Horgan is saying goodbye to politics.
Today, he announced that he will step down as B.C.'s premier.
Horgan told reporters that he won't be seeking reelection and that he has asked the party president, Aaron Sumexheltza, to work with the governing body to select a date in the fall for a leadership convention.
"This has been the thrill of my life to be the premier of British Columbia," Horgan said. "I will remain the premier of British Columbia the day after that and the day after that."
He noted that there has been "endless speculation" about his plans after his recent bout of cancer. With today's announcement, he said that he wanted to put the speculation to rest.
Horgan will remain premier until the new leader is chosen, though he did say that it's time to allow the next generation to play a larger role.
"This has never been about me. I have tried to make my leadership a statement about the strength of my colleagues and our ability to work collaboratively to get good outcomes for the people I represent," Horgan said.
Earlier in his speech, he discussed "historic breakthroughs" of his government, including "how Indigenous people can be full participants on their lands". He also pledged to keep working on fixing health care in his role as the head of the Council of the Federation.
"But at the halfway point in a mandate, which we are at coming up to this fall, it's traditional for a leader to ask his colleagues what their plans are. Will they be running in the next election," the premier said. "Many of you will know—in fact, I'm pretty sure that it's not a secret—that I have gone through my second bout of cancer and successfully went through 35 radiation treatments."
He noted that he's currently cancer-free and his health is good but his energy flags as the days go by.
"So before I could ask my colleagues what their plans were for the coming two years and beyond, I had to ask myself that," Horgan said.
He reflected with his wife Ellie and they came to the conclusion that he could not make another six-year commitment to his job.
Horgan has been around politics for 30 years, first as a political aide in NDP governments in the 1990s and later, as a longtime MLA. He was first elected in Malahat–Juan de Fuca in 2005, then represented Juan de Fuca from 2009 to 2017, and is now the MLA for Langford–Juan de Fuca.
He became leader of the B.C. NDP in 2014 and B.C.'s 36th premier in 2017.
During his term in office, Horgan's government scrapped medical-services premiums and bridge tolls, proceeded with the Site C dam, approved a liquefied natural gas project in Kitimat, and ruled during a growing overdose crisis, rising real-estate prices, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his final year as premier, Horgan's government has also been dogged by inflation, which could complicate contract talks with unions, and a growing health-care crisis caused in part by a shortage of family physicians.