Photo Credit: Rafal Gerszak | Globe & Mail

The Worst Kept Secret in BC Is Now Public

Premier Horgan is on his way out, but who will replace him?

Attorney General David Eby is the front-runner but the internal NDP tug-of-war is just beginning

It was the worst-kept secret in BC politics: John Horgan is stepping down as BC Premier.

In early 2021, well before Premier Horgan took time off for cancer, NDP insiders started whispering that he wouldn’t run again.

But, like most important things in BC politics, the rumours were kept secret. No one in the media or the party said anything publicly.

That is until we published our story: Who Will Replace John Horgan?

Well, our prediction has come true, and the question we asked is now the talk of the town—at least in Victoria.

Who will the NDP choose to replace Horgan as leader and Premier?

Ravi Kahlon
Photo from Facebook

That brings us to the second worst-kept secret in BC: the two front-runners are Attorney General David Eby and Minister Ravi Kahlon.

At least, they were.

The powerful inner circle around Horgan, led by his Chief of Staff Geoff Meggs, was rumoured to be lined up behind Kahlon.

That’s why Minister Kahlon’s announcement that he wouldn’t seek leadership is so surprising. Even more surprising was Kahlon’s announcement that he was throwing his support behind Eby to replace Horgan as NDP leader and Premier.

The NDP hasn’t yet set the date or rules for the leadership race. However, Eby is thought to be the clear front-runner even though he hasn’t yet confirmed his candidacy.

CTV News asked, “Is the race to replace Hogan over before it even starts?CTV’s Binder Sujan called Kahlon “a king-maker” and suggested his endorsement “may have just ended the NDP leadership race and handed it to David Eby.”

David Eby
Photo from Facebook

Former Executive Director of the NDP Raj Sihota told CTV News that Kahlon probably wasn’t the only NDP Minister who would support Eby. While acknowledging that ultimately it will be up to NDP members, Sihota said, it “sounds like David Eby has a lot of support from caucus.”

The opposition BC Liberals certainly think Eby will win.

During the recent BC Liberal leadership race—ultimately won by Kevin Falcon—candidates were openly questioning each other on who was best positioned to beat David Eby in the 2025 election.

“We’re all keenly aware of John Horgan’s health challenges, and we wish him well. The brass tacks reality is that (as I have been saying for more than a year), it’s likely we will not face John Horgan in the next election. We could face a new NDP leader, like, say, David Eby.  Michael, you served as David Eby’s critic for two and a half years. How did that go? What lessons did you learn that you would carry forward?”
– BC Liberal leadership hopeful Gavin Dew’s question to candidate Michael Lee during the 3rd BC Liberal leadership debate on December 21, 2021

Eby’s presence hasn’t stopped folks from speculating about other potential leadership hopefuls. They include:

  • Nathan Cullen, Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MLA–Stikine);
  • Adrian Dix, health Minister (MLA–Vancouver-Kingsway);
  • Mike Farnsworth, Solicitor General and Deputy Premier (MLA–Port Coquitlam);
  • Rob Fleming, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister (MLA–Victoria-Swan Lake);
  • Bowinn Ma, Minister of State for Infrastructure (MLA–North Vancouver-Lonsdale);
  • Melanie Mark, Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Minister (MLA–Vancouver-Mount Pleasant);
  • Josie Osborne, Land, Water and Resource Stewardship Minister (MLA–Mid Island-Pacific Rim);
  • Selena Robinson, Minister of Finance (MLA–Coquitlam-Maillardville); and
  • Jennifer Whiteside, Education Minister (MLA–New Westminster).

Most of the names being mentioned are sitting cabinet ministers. The tradition in BC has been that cabinet ministers step down once they declare their candidacy for party leadership.

The choice of the next leader may bring to a head the rumoured internal divide within the NDP.

On the one hand are the BrowNDPers who are a powerful force in the Premier’s Office. This group represents the resource extraction side of the NDP that supports fracking, LNG, and the status quo on mining and old-growth. On the other side are the GreeNDPers, who are fed up with the government’s lack of action on climate change, the police response to Fairy Creek and Wet’suwet’en land defenders, and weak protections for old-growth forests.

The powerful inner circle around Horgan, including Geoff Meggs, was rumoured to be lining up behind Kahlon. So it will be interesting to see where they unofficially throw their support.

Clearly, they are not big fans of Eby. The strange mix of portfolios Horgan gave Eby has been described by NDP insiders as an attempt to scuttle his future leadership ambitions. In addition to being Attorney General, Eby was handed the ICBC Reform and Housing portfolios. It was thought those would be impossible jobs to do without pissing off lots of people.

The inner-circle might have hoped folks would be so upset with Eby that they would sink any hope he had for leadership. But Eby has done well in these challenging roles.

And his performance in handling the recent Money Laundering Inquiry has positioned Eby as an anti-corruption leader. That’s not a bad mantle to wear when trust in government is falling and populism is rising.

Once the rules and dates are set, and various candidates throw their hats in the ring, we will dig deep into what each candidate will do to improve life for people here on VanIsle.

In general elections, some argue that their vote doesn’t really count. But we know for sure that ten thousand or so NDP voting members will determine the next Premier of BC.

Maybe it’s time for those of us who care about the future of VanIsle to think about helping to choose the next Premier.