B.C. Premier Horgan announces he will step down

After five years in the role, John Horgan announced on Tuesday afternoon he plans to step down as premier of British Columbia and has asked his governing party, the NDP, to hold a leadership convention later this year.

Speaking to reporters in Vancouver, where he has been attending a cabinet retreat, Horgan said he wanted to address the speculation surrounding his future as premier.

The announcement comes amid Horgan's recent bout with cancer and a controversial project involving the Royal B.C. Museum.

Horgan said while he is cancer-free and his health is good, his energy "flags as the days go by."

Recent conversations with his wife also had him reflect on what he wanted to do, he said.

"There has been endless speculation as a result of my recent battle with cancer about what my plans would be. I want to put the speculation to rest so we can get back to what really matters, and that's the issues before British Columbians," Horgan said.

He will remain as premier for the time being and says he has asked the president of the B.C. NDP to work with the party's governing body to select a date in the fall for a leadership convention.

"This has been the thrill of my life to be the premier of British Columbia and I will be the premier of British Columbia tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that," he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Horgan on Twitter for his years of public service.

"From our taking ambitious climate action, to making child care more affordable, to the leadership you provided keeping people safe through COVID-19, I always appreciated working with you. Wishing you all the best, John," Trudeau wrote.

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also thanked Horgan, saying the B.C. premier "has always worked for everyday people, putting their needs first."

"It is an honour to work with him and to call him my friend," Singh said.

As chair of the Council of the Federation, a body made up of the premiers from Canada's 13 provinces and territories, Horgan said he plans to hold the federal government to account on resolving the country's public health crisis, namely the Canada Health Transfer that is provided to provinces and territories for health care.

The next meeting of the council is set for July 11 and 12 in Victoria.

"The prime minister committed to me that his team would be there to have that conversation and to make progress, and I am going to hold him to that," Horgan said during Tuesday's news conference.

Horgan, 62, has served as premier of B.C. since 2017 and became leader of the B.C. NDP in 2014.

In November, he announced that he would start radiation treatment after a cancerous growth was found in his throat. The premier had previously undergone successful treatment for bladder cancer in his 40s.

In January, Horgan said he had completed his recent cancer treatment after going through 35 rounds of radiation.

As early as May, Horgan said he would not rule out a third term in office. He also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this spring.

Last week, Horgan announced that the province would "go back to the drawing board" after a public outcry involving the Royal B.C. Museum.

The province had previously released thousands of pages of documents supporting its decision to replace the museum for approximately $800 million.

The project has since been put on hold, but not without hurting his approval.

"We thought we had it right, clearly we did not," Horgan said on June 22.

Asked on Tuesday whether his announcement on the museum was connected to his political future, Horgan said he only made the decision to ensure the project would not become a "laugh line."

"So my motivation on the museum had no connection to my personal views beyond the fact that I did not want it to be a political football and I believe that that was the right course, and British Columbians seem to agree with me," he said.

With files from CTVNewsVancouver.ca Reporter and Senior Producer Andrew Weichel, CTVNewsVancouver.ca Reporter and Producer Kendra Mangione, CTV News Vancouver Multi-media Journalist Bhinder Sajan and Senior Political Correspondent for CTV News Channel Mike Le Couteur

Thank you, @JJHorgan, for your many years of public service. From our taking ambitious climate action, to making child care more affordable, to the leadership you provided keeping people safe through COVID-19, I always appreciated working with you. Wishing you all the best, John. pic.twitter.com/tnCaIO3zfr

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 28, 2022

Premier Horgan has always worked for everyday people, putting their needs first.

It is an honour to work with him and to call him my friend. pic.twitter.com/CLYMIb2DbF

— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) June 28, 2022