It’s not the leader’s seat, but Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan was front and centre as the Legislature reconvened on Wednesday.
Newly minted NDP leader Adrian Dix has appointed Horgan NDP house leader, as well as energy critic, a portfolio the Langford resident has held for four years.
As house leader, Horgan is working with Liberal counterpart Rich Coleman — the minister of energy and mines — to prepare and organize each day’s agenda of debates and bills.
“It’s a somewhat technical job and a somewhat diplomatic job,” Horgan said. “It sounds easier than it is.
“(The position) is a vote of confidence from the new leader,” he added. “I’ll have a new edge going into this job. I can work co-operatively with both sides, but we need good will from both sides. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis has retained her role as NDP house whip, responsible for maintaining caucus discipline and unity.
The spring session is scheduled to end June 2, but Horgan suspects that won’t be enough time to debate and cover ground on issues such as the HST and the status quo budget presented in February.
Between that budget and the election of Christy Clark as Liberal leader, ministries have been renamed and shaken up, making the budget disconnected from the existing government, Horgan said.
“The ministry names are different, there is no connection (in the budget) to the present to be able to follow the money.
“It becomes very, very difficult to follow where the money goes, what it’s spent on and what social benefit is derived,” Horgan said shortly before the session began Wednesday.
“The government wants to deal with this quickly and we disagree.”
Outside of sitting for four days in February, MLAs have been out of the legislature for nearly 11 months. The fixed calendar allows for 17 days of debate before the summer break. Horgan said the session should last as long as needed.
“What is the harm in that?” he said. “Working to spend money where it’s appropriate is the whole point of government.
“The public wants to know the government has collected the right amount of money and spent it on the right priorities.”