Members of the BC legislature were chastised Monday following a rowdy question period that ended with Premier John Horgan uttering what sounded like an expletive.
The NDP and opposition Liberals were in the midst of a heated debate on the province’s shortage of family doctors when an exasperated Horgan lost his composure.
“Do you want a headline, or do you want action?” the premier said after being interrupted by shouts from across the aisle. “Oh f***.”
The increasingly intense exchange over the shortage – which has been labeled a “crisis” within the health-care system – prompted Speaker Raj Chouhan to cut the debate short and call a brief recess.
“I’m so disappointed in all of you,” Chouhan said after MLAs returned. “During the question period, I have repeatedly said please listen to the question and listen to the answers. Once that’s over, don’t make it personal. Let’s behave like adults, please.”
Liberal opposition leader Shirley Bond and Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford had been hammering the NDP on the lack of family doctors, pointing to recent data suggesting wait times at the province’s walk-in clinics are longer than anywhere else in the country.
“A million British Columbians are without a family doctor, and that is not acceptable,” said Halford, the critic for mental health and addictions.
“When will this premier step up in this house and give British Columbians the reassurance they need that they will be supported by a family doctor?”
Horgan is among the Canadian premiers who have been pushing the federal government to provide billions of dollars in additional funding to address issues in the health-care system, and was responding to Halford with a reference to the country’s system of “co-operative federalism” when he was shouted down.
“Do you want to hear it, man? Do you want to hear it, or do you just want to hear your voice? Why don’t you go to the bathroom and talk to yourself in there because you don’t want to hear?” answers in this place,” the premier said.
Liberal MLA Peter Milobar told CTV News he heard Horgan curse, and that the seriousness of the topic under debate called for a more substantive response.
“It’s very telling me that the premier needed to act that way instead of coming up with some tangible defence,” Milobar said.
Hours after question period, Horgan addressed the incident on social media and appeared to acknowledge he had used profanity.
“If my mom was still around, she’d be on her way to the legislature with a bar of Irish Spring (soap),” he wrote.
He also offered an apology to the legislature later on Monday, which marked the first time in more than two years that reporters and politicians met face-to-face in the chamber as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At the end of question period, my passion for health-care got the better of me and I made some intemperate comments,” he said. “I may well have offended members of this house or others. I apologize for that and I withdraw those remarks unreservedly.”