Nanaimo-North Cowichan’s Doug Routley was passed over for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan despite his 15 years as an MLA, making him one of the most experienced members of the NDP team in the legislature.
Routley, 59, was first elected as MLA for Cowichan-Ladysmith in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2013, a trend that continued in 2017 and 2020 after boundaries were redrawn to become Nanaimo-North Cowichan in 2017.
Some senior ministers did not run in this October’s election, leaving Horgan with several newcomers on his majority government. He selected a few of those over Routley in determining cabinet posts.
“I am honoured to be serving my fifth term as MLA, alongside the largest NDP caucus in B.C.’s history,” Routley declared in a statement furnished to the Courier. “I appreciate the concerns expressed from the community around me not receiving a minister position and I continue to be humbled by your confidence and support. My career in politics has always been focused on serving and improving our community and while there is a great honour in ministerial roles, they also come with very full calendars and province-wide responsibilities.
“The premier has asked me to chair a special committee and, while I am not at liberty to provide more details at this time, I can say that this work will be essential to ensuring a fairer and more equal province. This position will allow me to make a long-lasting, positive impact on our province, while also ensuring that I continue to be accessible and available to my community which remains my top priority.”
A query sent to Horgan’s office for an explanation of Routley being left off the list of cabinet ministers and ministers of state went unanswered.
The expanse of the cabinet during the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism from Kris Sims, the B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“It’s disappointing to see the premier had a chance to show leadership by trimming cabinet and saving taxpayers money, but instead he made cabinet even bigger,” she noted. “Many people have lost their jobs, lost their businesses or had their salaries reduced, so when the premier adds more ministers and expense it shows we are certainly not all in this together.”
Before the election, Sims pointed out, there were 22 cabinet ministers and eight parliamentary secretaries. Following Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony, there are now 24 cabinet ministers and 13 parliamentary secretaries.
Cabinet ministers are currently paid more than $166,000 a year in salaries, according to Sims, plus living allowances.
Routley was sworn into the legislature virtually the previous day, Nov. 25, to the cabinet being named, as one of the 57 BC NDP members.
“I’ve been proud to serve my community in the legislature since 2005 and I am looking forward to a new term as MLA,” stated Routley. “Our government has accomplished a lot these past few years, creating child care spaces, funding hospital upgrades and building housing. In the face of hardship, we are delivering for people and working families and I am excited to continue this important work.”
Routley lists a diverse background in industry, business, labour and politics. He also comes from a family of educators and attended Cowichan Valley public schools and then Camosun College before living and working in Japan for one year.
With many rookie MLAs in his midst, Horgan still didn’t consider those credentials enough to put Routley in a key cabinet position.
Routley has previously served as the Official Opposition spokesperson for Citizen Services, Deputy spokesperson for Forests – Forest Futures and Opposition critic for Skills Training.