Newly re-elected Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg said he is not seeking cabinet office in this term, nor would he like to return as government caucus chair, a post he has held for the past two years.
“I think it’s time somebody else had that for a while,” the veteran BC Liberal politician said, noting he found that, as in his earlier cabinet posts as Minister of Children and Family Development, Minister of State for Mining and Minister of State for ActNow BC, “it pulls you away from the community a fair amount.”
The position of caucus chair is elected as a one-year term in a secret ballot by MLAs.
Premier Christy Clark – who said Wednesday she would run in a byelection in Westside-Kelowna this summer, after being defeated in Vancouver-Point Grey May 14 – is to announce cabinet appointments Friday, with cabinet being sworn in Monday.
Hogg, 66, is to be sworn in Tuesday, along with other BC Liberal MLAs and independent Vicki Huntington (Delta South). NDP MLAs are to be sworn in Wednesday.
Hogg is a former White Rock mayor and councillor, holding civic office for 20 years before first being elected as Surrey-White Rock MLA in 1997. Prior to being elected to the Legislature, he worked as a counsellor, probation officer and regional director for corrections. He has also served as a board member on numerous committees and non-profit societies, including Peace Arch Community Health Council and Peace Arch District Hospital.
“One of the things I most enjoy about (being MLA) is being in the community and being able to participate in the growth and development of programs in this community,” Hogg said.
He said he’d like to spend more time on issues such as pushing for a new high school in the Grandview Heights area to alleviate Earl Marriott Secondary, and also helping create innovative social health and environmental programs in partnership with community and business groups, typified by the collaborative work that resulted in White Rock’s Centre For Active Living.
“The opportunity to spend a little more time working on things like that will be good for me,” he said. “However, I’m honoured to represent this community, and I’ll be happy to play any role I’m asked to play provincially in order to provide the best government in this province.”
It had been speculated that Hogg’s riding was considered one of the frontrunners – along with West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan – eyed as a potential landing point for Clark, who would be without a seat after her loss to New Democrat David Eby. Clark’s loss made it inevitable she would be parachuted into a “safe” BC Liberal riding so that she could continue to hold office as premier.
(Days after the election, Peace Arch News had asked the three BC Liberal MLA-elects in South Surrey if they would be willing to give up their seats for their leader. Hogg and Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Panorama) called the possibility “hypothetical” and refused to comment further, and Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey-Cloverdale) said “it’s not something I’m even thinking about.”)
Wednesday, Westside-Kelowna MLA-elect Ben Stewart, who won in his Okanagan riding by a 6,197-vote margin, confirmed he will step aside for the premier.
“In the big picture, it’s part of parliamentary procedure that if the leader of a party is defeated in his or her own riding that you have to find another seat for that leader – and Ben came forward and offered his seat,” Hogg said.
He added it was “very noble” of Stewart to volunteer.
“Certainly we were all aware of the need, and looking at that need and if some (local) ridings had met the criteria, we would have looked closely at that,” Hogg added. “But Ben is the one who came to the forefront first.”
Hogg said the swearing in of caucus members will be the first step in moving toward a byelection in the Kelowna riding as swiftly as possible.
“I believe there has to be a swearing-in before an elected member can resign, and then there must be a notice of byelection, and that means a wait of 28 days for that to occur,” he said.
“Kelowna has voted, traditionally, for our party, so it seems like a good way for Christy to get back into parliament.”