VICTORIA — British Columbia premier-designate John Horgan started putting a stamp on his new minority NDP government Tuesday, appointing three people to his inner team including a Vancouver city councillor and a former deputy minister in the previous Liberal government.
The swearing in of Horgan’s cabinet isn’t expected for a few weeks, but he announced the appointments of a deputy minister, chief of staff and special adviser.
Christy Clark’s Liberal government was defeated last week in a confidence vote in the legislature. Horgan’s New Democrats, who reached a co-operation agreement with the three Green party members after the May election, have a one-seat edge over the Liberals in the 87-seat legislature.
Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs was appointed Horgan’s chief of staff and Don Wright, the CEO at Central 1 Credit Union and a former president of the B.C. Institute of Technology, will head the public service and be the premier’s deputy minister.
Bob Dewar, who was recruited last year from Manitoba to help run the NDP’s election campaign, will serve as special adviser to the premier.
Wright previously served as a deputy minister in Liberal and NDP governments. He worked on difficult government files that included teachers’ union negotiations and softwood lumber.
He also served as vice-president of forestry and corporate affairs at forest company Weldwood of Canada.
New Democrat member Carole James said Wright brings vast experience to the government in private and public fields.
“People just have huge respect from all political sides for the work Don Wright has done,” she said.
James said Wright’s experience in the forest industry and softwood lumber trade negotiations will be invaluable as B.C. looks to the federal government to reach a new trade agreement with the United States.
Horgan said last week he plans to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later this summer on the softwood dispute and he plans to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet Americans officials.
B.C. is Canada’s largest exporter of softwood lumber and the United States has placed tariffs and duties on Canadian softwood exports.
Meggs, a three-term councillor in Vancouver, resigned his council seat Tuesday. He worked on Vancouver’s cycling and housing policies.
Meggs also served in past B.C. New Democrat governments in the 1990s.
“Geoff brings not only his local government experience, his past government experience from the ’90s, but also he brings the experience of having worked directly on the platform for this (most recent NDP) campaign,” said James.
In 2012, Meggs and former journalist Rod Mickleburgh, wrote the award-winning book, “The Art of the Impossible, Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power, 1972-1975.”
Dewar was recruited by Horgan to work with the NDP on a temporary stint, but it’s now become permanent, James said.
Dewar is a former chief of staff to former Manitoba NDP premier Gary Doer and his brother is NDP member of Parliament Paul Dewar.
The Opposition Liberals declined to comment on the appointments.
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