‘Popular, Historic and Enduring’: A Look Back at John Horgan’s Legacy | Globalnews.ca

When John Horgan leaves the prime minister’s office for the last time in a few months, BC will say goodbye to one of the most successful occupants of that office.

Few of his predecessors can point to such a long list of achievements, as well as an enduring ability to remain popular with the general public, even when controversies inevitably pile up at the door.

Horgan has just entered his sixth year in office, an achievement that seemed highly dubious (to me and many other political observers) on the night of the 2017 provincial election when the BC Liberals ended up winning the most seats, but not enough to form a majority government.

After forging a non-aggression pact with Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, Horgan was able to secure his own de facto majority and turn it into a solid one, free from the need to cooperate with the Greens, with a decisive and historic electoral victory in 2020.

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While there have been the occasional misstep, Horgan has run a largely untroubled government almost from the first day of his formation in power.

Helped, no doubt, by an unprecedented global pandemic that saw citizens around the world look at government through an appreciative lens, Horgan has been able to consistently display the attribute that almost every political leader strives for in a democracy: the common touch.

earned the nickname first dad for his ability to give helpful advice while reprimanding those guilty of misconduct or not following the “rules” that come with living in a pandemic.

Click to play video: 'Reaction to Prime Minister John Horgan's announcement that he is stepping down'

Reaction to Prime Minister John Horgan’s announcement that he is stepping down

Reaction to Prime Minister John Horgan’s announcement that he is stepping down – June 28, 2022

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His personal popularity grew over time (although he dipped a bit in the latest opinion poll), which is an almost unheard-of achievement for a British Columbia premier.

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Aside from a deft personal touch, one of his key strengths was steering his government largely into the political milieu with a touch of progressive populism from time to time.

Getting rid of tolls on two Fraser River bridges at the start of the first term was a smart and effective move. So was eliminating premiums for medical service plans.

The ICBC review almost overnight meant lower car insurance rates and even rebates for motorists to the tune of hundreds of dollars.

His decision to green-light both the continuation of the Site C dam and the LNG Canada project put his government firmly on the side of industrial development and against the environmental wing of his party.

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Horgan’s decision not only to embrace the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but also to enshrine it into law, may well be the most far-reaching decision by any government in British Columbia’s history. The implications of that decision will last for generations.

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His 2020 election victory altered the political landscape, as the NDP won in communities from which it had long been excluded: Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Richmond. If the victories in those races are not one-time events, it will be very difficult to displace the NDP in government.

Ultimately, he will long be remembered not only for leading the province through a harrowing pandemic, but for doing so in a style that delegated much of the decision-making to those around him, rather than doing it all on him.

Popular, historic and enduring: those are three terms to describe what will be John Horgan’s legacy from his term.

Horgan liked to practice what I call “progressive centrism.” His successor (probably the current Attorney General David Eby) would do well to continue down the same path.

It is a winning formula.

Keith Baldrey is Global BC’s lead political reporter.

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