B.C. premier planning to step down, says 'energy flags' since latest cancer bout

The premier of British Columbia has announced plans to step down, but not until the provincial NDP can choose his successor.

John Horgan appeared at a news conference Tuesday, following a two-day cabinet retreat in Vancouver, and confirmed he will not be seeking a third term in office.

The premier said he made the difficult decision during a recent walk on the beach with his wife Ellie, during which they reflected on his latest bout with cancer.

Watching otters splashing offshore, Horgan said he was reminded that "doing a little bit more playing, a little less working is probably not a bad idea."

"I have to now reflect on what to do with the summers ahead of me," he said.

Horgan was diagnosed with cancer last November, months after discovering a lump in his throat, and underwent 35 rounds of radiation before completing his treatment in January.

The 62-year-old, who had a previous battle with bladder cancer in 2008, said he's found himself with less energy since coming back to work.

"My health is good, but my energy flags as the days go by," the premier said.

The B.C. NDP is expected to hold a leadership convention to choose Horgan's successor this fall. The premier stressed that his work will continue until then, but said he can't commit to another six years leading the province.

"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," Horgan 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."

Heading into Tuesday's announcement, political scientists suggested there has been no outside pressure for Horgan to resign, and that the decision to do so would likely be his alone.

While the provincial government has faced significant challenges, from affordability to the family doctor shortage, a recent Angus Reid Institute poll found Horgan remains one of the most popular premiers in the country – despite his approval rating falling to its lowest level in years.

Last week, Horgan took full responsibility for the controversy surrounding the Royal B.C. Museum replacement, which was met with significant backlash over its estimated $789-million price tag, and announced the government was suspending the project.

Experts speculated the premier's decision might have been designed to spare a hurdle for the NDP's next leader.

"I've talked about the need for generational change in our politics, not just within the NDP but indeed within all our political institutions," Horgan said Tuesday. "We need to make space for the next generation to bring forward their energy and their ideas."

Horgan rose to power in 2017, with the NDP forming the province's first minority government since 1952 thanks to a confidence and supply agreement with the B.C. Green Party. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan and Kendra Mangione