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In Conversation With Stewart Prest - A Political Science Expert On The Stepping Down Of BC Premier,

Darpan News Desk Darpan, 23 Jul, 2022
  • In Conversation With Stewart Prest - A Political Science Expert On The Stepping Down Of BC Premier,

With a PhD in political science, Stewart Prest researches, writes and teaches about various areas of political science, including provincial and federal Canadian politics and institutions, comparative politics, civil conflict and contentious politics, and foreign policy. The common theme that reflects in his work is the role of institutions in enabling and constraining effective decision-making in various contexts.

He has a PhD in political science from the University of British Columbia and a Master’s degree in international affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa. He currently teaches at Douglas College and Simon Fraser University and held an SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

In an exclusive interview with DARPAN Magazine, he talks about the BC Premier - John Horgan stepping down and the future of BC politics. 

Q. What are your views on the stepping down of the BC Premier - John Horgan?

I think it’s a reflection of Mr Horgan taking stock of where he is both in terms of his political career and his personal situation and deciding that this is a good time to take a step back both politically and personally. It is unusual to see politicians leave when they’re more or less on top. What Mr Horgan is doing is an interesting development, but it makes a lot of sense. Personally, he gets to spend more time with his wife and family. That is no minor consideration given the fact he just recovered from cancer. It also provides the BC with NDP time to undergo a leadership campaign, have a successor in place, and prepare for the next election, which we still don’t expect until 2024. So, the timing makes sense from a personal and a political perspective. 

Q. What are your thoughts on who would be replacing Mr Horgan? 

In the last couple of days, it has started to look like this is David Eby’s race to lose. The attorney general was one of the early favorites to replace Mr Horgan and was even looking at taking a run at the leadership when Mr Horgan won it back in 2014. So, this is not a surprising development. Also, one of his main potential rivals, Ravi Kahlon, has announced his intention not to run and has thrown his support behind Mr Eby. The race is now starting to look more like a potential coronation for Mr Eby.

Q. What does the province’s future hold regarding governance and leadership? 

We can look back on the last five years of Mr Horgan’s time in office as premier as being marked by a whole host of crises related to climate - extreme weather and the pandemic along with its social and economic impact. In the future, the province would have a new set of challenges that are just as significant but take different forms.

However, we will continue to have issues regarding extreme weather events. We also have the economic implications of the pandemic and the dislocation taking the form of rapidly increasing prices, inflation, and rising fuel price. At the same time, we’ve seen the ongoing housing affordability crisis, which remains a huge challenge and has only grown during Mr Horgan’s time in office. The new government will have its hands full dealing with these economic issues. They’re particularly challenging because many defy any kind of simple solution that typically takes a decade or more to really impact the housing supply through the support for social housing. 

Q. What does the province’s future hold regarding governance and leadership? 

We can look back on the last five years of Mr Horgan’s time in office as premier as being marked by a whole host of crises related to climate - extreme

Q. What does this move look like for the BC NDP overall as a party?

Well, I think it puts the NDP in a pretty good position to try to renew their leadership and get ready to compete in the next election. This is the party that’s already five years into leadership but doesn’t seem like it is growing unpopular with the population. BC NDP is still quite competitive in any polling we’ve seen. Kevin Falcon, the leader of the liberals, is trying to change that. He will still have his hands full trying to make a case for British Colombians to change. All that will depend on the next couple of years and whether the new leader is Mr Eby or someone else who can connect with voters in the same way Mr Horgan has been able to.

Q. What are your thoughts on the upcoming election - the provincial 2024?

It is still a long ways off, and there is a significant possibility that we don’t know what that election will be about. Although, you can expect that affordability concerns and the cost of living will never be too far from people’s minds as it is the economic reality that we are in. Though it is hard to judge at the moment, we’re going to see stiff competition between the BC Liberal and the BC NDP to put forward a more compelling vision for the province. The NDP still seems to have the upper hand among British Colombians, particularly in the province’s urban and suburban areas, as the BC NDP resonates with their interest. The BC NDP, under Mr Horgan, has managed to capture the centre of the political landscape and the progressive voters they traditionally relied upon. 

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