Former BC Premier John Horgan Joins Board of Steel-Making Coal Company

Former BC Premier John Horgan Joins Board of Steel-Making Coal Company
Premier John Horgan answers questions during a news conference in the press theatre at the legislature in Victoria, March 11, 2022. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)
Peter Wilson

Former British Columbia NDP Premier John Horgan is joining the board of a steel-making coal company, according to a recent report, and says he is aware that the move will likely draw some criticism.

Horgan, 64, who served as the province’s premier for five years before stepping away from the role last year due to health concerns, is joining the board of Elk Valley Resources (EVR), a private enterprise that is being spun off to shareholders from the Vancouver-based Teck Resources Ltd., according to the Globe and Mail.

Horgan also officially resigned his seat in the B.C. legislature on March 31, thus ending a 30-year career that saw him serve eight years as B.C.’s NDP leader and five terms as an MLA.

Although Horgan said at the time that he wasn’t ruling out a future political appointment, he now says the time has come to pursue paths outside of policymaking—with his new role at EVR being the first.

“I’ve got other things that I am going to be working on that may be more to the taste of those who would kick up some dust, but the people that are kicking up dust, oftentimes, kick it up for the sake of kicking it up,” Horgan told the Globe about being on the board of the coal company.

He acknowledged that some may have a “knee-jerk” reaction to his new position, but added that people should understand the difference between coal used for electricity and coal used for steel manufacturing.

“I don’t have a lot of time any more, none in fact, for public comment on my worldview, or what I am doing with my time,” Horgan said. “I don’t want to be snippy about it, but there are others that are making policy decisions.”

A number of federal and provincial politicians have commented on Horgan’s new position, with some saying it seems to contradict his earlier climate policies as premier.

Federal NDP MP Charlie Angus wrote on Twitter that Horgan is “cashing in as the planet burns,” while Independent Alberta MLA Drew Barnes wrote, “The old adage—‘Do as I say, not as I do’—comes to mind.”

Federal Conservative MP Frank Caputo, whose riding is located in B.C., questioned if federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will take a stance on Horgan’s new position.

“The federal NDP loves to compare us to non-related conservative parties,” Caputo wrote on Twitter on April 1. “Now that the shoe is on the other foot, will the NDP call this out as they do often ask us to do?”

Low-Carbon Investments

Before his time as the province’s longest-serving NDP premier, Horgan served as the B.C. NDP’s mining and energy opposition critic.
Shortly before stepping down as premier, he travelled to San Francisco to sign a climate action agreement with governors from the states of Oregon, Washington, and California.

The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC), an international governmental agency formed between B.C. and the three U.S. states over a decade ago, signed a new statement of cooperation in October 2022 to join forces on a number of green initiatives.

In the agreement signed by Horgan, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the PCC aims to be more aggressive in transitioning to low-carbon emissions and to make more investments in electric vehicle charging stations along interstate highways and a clean electric grid.

Horgan at the time said the initiatives were urgent, as unprecedented wildfires ravaged parts of his province.

“In order to address those challenges, we have to collaborate, we have to work together,” he said.

The then-premier added that the province had reinvested in hydroelectricity, which he called “clean, green energy [that] is the backbone of all of the alternatives that we’re bringing forward—be it wind, solar, and other technologies.”

The Canadian Press and Jill McLaughlin contributed to this report.