John Horgan is leaving. Who might be the next premier of British Columbia?

There is a lot of speculation following Premier John Horgan's announcement Tuesday that he is stepping down. He will stay on as premier until a new leader is decided, which will happen during a leadership convention in the fall. As Richard Zussman reports, there are a few options for who could take the role.

The BC NDP has been John Horgan’s party since 2014.

It’s not just because he’s been leader since then, but because he has left his mark on everything the party has done to get and maintain power.

Now that the 62-year-old has announced his intentions to step down, the province’s New Democratic Party will hold what’s expected to be a hotly contested leadership battle this fall.

Here is a list of people who have already started to organize a potential leadership bid, as well as other perceived frontrunners.

David Eby

Attorney General David Eby has been a political heavyweight for over a decade, first as the face for the BC Civil Liberties Association, then as an opposition MLA, and now as the province’s top lawyer since 2017.

The 44-year-old Vancouver-Point Grey MLA has been leading B.C.’s effort to curb widespread and systemic money laundering in casinos, overhaul ICBC, and address the ongoing housing crisis.

He has strong connections to political organizers in Vancouver, and is growing a support base beyond that.

His young family was the reason he turned down leadership opportunities in the past, and it may be the only thing that keeps him from chasing the top job this time.

Ravi Kahlon

A rising star in Horgan’s cabinet, Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon’s name recognition has grown throughout the pandemic.

The 43-year-old has led the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19 since being appointed to cabinet in 2020.

The former Olympic field hockey player and political staffer has deep roots within the NDP that go far beyond his Delta North riding.

Like Eby, Kahlon has a child in school. His family may also be the one factor that could keep him out of the race.


Adrian Dix

Could Health Minister Adrian Dix be “100-per-cent all in” once again?

The former party leader has written another political act for himself, helping to guide the province through the pandemic alongside provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Dix, 58, famously lost the election to BC Liberal Christy Clark in 2013 after many public opinion polls put him far ahead during the campaign.

His resurgence in popularity would be unparalleled in a party leadership race, with a name known far outside his riding of Vancouver-Kingsway.

However, he may be limited by his track record and the larger health-care crisis, including a family doctor shortage.

Josie Osborne

A favourite of many in Horgan’s inner circle, Josie Osborne continues to build a provincial profile as the newly minted minister of land, water and resource stewardship.

The former mayor of Tofino was originally tapped to head up the municipal affairs portfolio, and then moved her current role that includes the responsibility of working with First Nations and other communities on environmental development.

The 51-year-old is well liked by many municipal leaders across B.C. and would be able to use her connections to reach out to NDP members all over the province.

However, Osborne’s lack of provincial experience may impact her decision to run for leader.

Jennifer Whiteside

An experienced labour leader, Jennifer Whiteside has been a prominent member of Horgan’s cabinet since winning her New Westminster seat in 2020.

The newcomer to electoral politics was thrust into the spotlight as education minister during the pandemic on how to safely get kids back to the classroom following months of remote learning.

She could rely on her connections in the labour movement in a leadership bid, such as from her time with the Hospital Employees’ Union from 2015 to 2020.

Whiteside’s lack of political experience, however, may deter her from joining the race.

Nathan Cullen

Former MP Nathan Cullen has long been rumoured to have leadership ambitions, having finished third in the 2012 federal NDP contest that was ultimately won by Thomas Mulcair.

His transition was rough when he made the jump to provincial politics.

The party announced he’d won the nomination by acclaim to run in the northern riding of Stikine in the 2020 B.C. election, a week after Annita McPhee, a three-term president of the Tahltan Central Government, was told she couldn’t run.

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But since then, Cullen has emerged as a key member of Horgan’s cabinet, serving as minister of municipal affairs.

Representing the rural riding of Stikine would be both a plus and minus were he to run for party leader.

He’d be able to tap into a more remote area of the province that the NDP currently struggles to communicate with, but he’d also need to convince urban voters he understands their issues.

Bowinn Ma

Another young rising star in the NDP cabinet, Bowinn Ma has been building a fan base among New Democrats since her election in 2017.

The minister of state for infrastructure initially turned down an invitation to Horgan’s cabinet in 2019, before joining in 2020.

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The UBC-trained engineer has been heavily focused on Metro Vancouver’s transit network and the climate crisis.

Ma, 36, won the swing riding of North Vancouver-Lonsdale in 2017 in what was a considered a hallmark victory for the party on the North Shore.

Her independent spirit may be what keeps her from running.

Selina Robinson

As B.C.’s finance minister, Selina Robinson has the name recognition and experience to immediate become a frontrunner for the leadership, but she’s been telling people she’s not interested.

The 58-year-old has been one of the architects of B.C.’s plan to address housing affordability and has had to manage the province’s books during the economic impact of the pandemic.

The Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA is also currently in the challenging position of leading the political end of negotiations with B.C.’s public-sector unions.

Katrina Chen

A relative newcomer to provincial politics, Katrina Chen has quickly built a strong reputation among NDP members.

Still largely unknown to the general public, Chen has been managing the province’s child-care portfolio since 2017.

Getting to $10-per-day child care and regulating the sector have been huge priorities for Horgan’s government, and Chen has largely managed the issues well.

The 38-year-old served as a Burnaby school trustee and constituency assistant before winning the riding of Burnaby-Lougheed.

She was just 34 years old when she was sworn into cabinet, making her one of B.C.’s youngest ministers ever.

Chen is significantly admired by her colleagues for handling a challenging portfolio and raising her elementary school-aged son as single mom.

Rob Fleming

It is not the first time Rob Fleming’s name as been bandied about as a leadership candidate.

Like Robinson, he has been indicating to people around him that the time may not be right.

But the 50-year-old transportation minister would also be a frontrunner if he decided to test his degree of party support.

Fleming has represented the riding of Victoria-Swan Lake since 2009.

He was one of the most prominent critics when the party was in opposition, and jumped in as education minister when the party formed government in 2017.

Fleming was part of the lead government response team following the catastrophic floods and mudslides last November.

Brad West

The outspoken mayor of Port Coquitlam, Brad West would bring an outsider’s prospective to the leadership contest.

Seen as a  potential successor to Mike Farnworth, the former Port Coquitlam MLA who is now a cabinet minister, West’s experience in city hall would be an advantage.

Highly critical of the federal government’s relationship with China, West was one of the leading advocates to investigate the roots of money laundering in B.C.

The 37-year-old father of two could struggle in deciding to enter provincial politics while having such a young family.

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