Wildfires that have forced 40,000 British Columbians from their homes will force British Columbia's new cabinet ministers to get to work quickly to deal with the crisis, says a leading New Democrat likely to be among them.
"The issue of the forest fires will be front and centre," Carole James, a former NDP leader who is now transition spokeswoman, said in an interview on Monday.
"Everyone will have that on their minds."
British Columbia's first NDP government in 16 years will be sworn in on Tuesday.
Ms. James, who noted that her husband's family has been evacuated from Williams Lake, said the issue of the wildfires burning in the Interior will top the agenda as the cabinet begins meeting on Wednesday, trying to come up with measures to help families, communities, first responders and firefighters.
"Obviously, the person who comes in as the new forests minister is going to be working directly with the premier, and making sure supports are in place," said Ms. James, who noted that premier-designate John Horgan is being briefed several times a day on the issue.
Political scientist Hamish Telford said the NDP government is making its debut in the midst of a provincial emergency. "I don't think [Tuesday] is a day for celebration. It's a day to show up ready to work."
But taking action will have to balance with the necessity of new ministers being briefed by civil servants on their responsibilities and policy issues. At the same time, both cabinet and caucus will go through an orientation process that Ms. James said will continue throughout the week.
Ms. James, who led the NDP through two campaigns but failed to bring the party to power, declined to say whether she will be in cabinet. "John Horgan knows that and I'll find out [on Tuesday]," Ms. James said.
The Liberals were reduced to 43 seats in the May election. The NDP took 41 seats and the Greens won three. For weeks, it was unclear whether the Liberals or New Democrats would govern with support from the BC Green Party. However, the Greens eventually struck an agreement with the NDP, and the two parties voted last month to defeat the Liberals in a confidence motion.
The province's Lieutenant-Governor, Judith Guichon, then asked Mr. Horgan to form a government.
The NDP has campaigned on and touted an agenda that includes $10-a-day daycare, banning corporate and union political donations, a review by the BC Utilities Commission of the controversial Site C hydroelectric project in the north, increases in the carbon tax, eliminating tolls on Metro Vancouver bridges and annual $400 subsidies for renters.
Tuesday will put faces on the ministers who will enact that agenda. "[Tuesday] is an opportunity for the public to see the government they voted for," Ms. James said.
Ministries and their ministers will reflect the agreement with the Green Party, and highlight some of the key policy commitments of the NDP campaign, a party insider said on background. That will include an enhanced focus on technology and sustainability.
In a statement issued on Monday, Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the swearing in of the new government signals an opportunity to work across party lines thanks to the governance agreement between the two parties.
"The BC Green caucus looks forward to a productive, collaborative working relationship with the new Cabinet, as well as all of our colleagues on both sides of the House."
Mr. Horgan's challenge is to find space in a cabinet of about 20 members for such stalwarts as Ms. James, and Adrian Dix, another former leader, while squeezing in such fresh faces as David Eby, Ravi Kahlon and Melanie Mark, who may well be the future of the party. In addition, the party lacks members from outside Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island. In total, there are three.
Christy Clark, the outgoing premier, touched on this point on Canada Day.
"It's really important that the new government recognize the province doesn't end at the Lower Mainland and almost none of the Interior or the north of British Columbia is represented by the government now," Ms. Clark told reporters after a Canada Day ceremony.
She said the area will need people fighting for it. "The wealth of the Lower Mainland depends on the wealth of the Okanagan succeeding and other parts of the province," said the Kelowna-area MLA.
Political scientist Michael Prince of the University of Victoria noted that Mr. Horgan's long-term goal is going to be appealing to areas where the NDP failed to gain ground at the polls in May so it can eventually make a play for a majority government on its own terms. The NDP leader has also spoken often of diversity, suggesting it will be a priority in crafting his first cabinet.
NDP Leader John Horgan has only so many seats to offer in his first cabinet. It remains to be seen who he will choose to fill them, but here are some names to watch for on Tuesday as he announces the first NDP cabinet in B.C. since 2001.
Adrian Dix and Carole James – Mr. Horgan will be able to draw on the experience of two former party leaders, each of whom led the party into at least one election. It is a rare option, given that many party leaders leave after defeats. Neither Mr. Dix or Ms. James could lead the NDP to power, but they have been reliable critics for the party.
David Eby – The former executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association has had a high profile as a key NDP critic, dealing with housing among other issues. He is also the MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey, beating Christy Clark in 2013 to win that riding. As a lawyer, he might well end up as attorney-general or in any number of other files.
Harry Bains – The Surrey Newton MLA has been in the House since 2005, a run in the legislature that could position him for a cabinet role. He is critic for forests, lands and natural-resource operations.
Garry Begg – B.C. has had its share of policemen turned politicians and members of cabinet, including Amrik Virk, whom Mr. Begg beat in Surrey-Guildford in the spring election. Both men had careers in the RCMP. Mr. Begg's roles included district commander. He failed to win a federal seat in the 2015 election, but is headed to Victoria.
Spencer Chandra Herbert – First elected in a 2008 Vancouver by-election, Mr. Herbert has been Vancouver-West End MLA since 2009. He has been prominent in such opposition roles as environment and culture.
Judy Darcy – A stalwart critic who came to politics after being the national president of Canada's largest union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Both could mean a spot in cabinet for Ms. Darcy, first elected as MLA for New Westminster in 2013.
Mike Farnworth – A rare NDP caucus member with cabinet experience. The veteran MLA from Port Coquitlam was municipal affairs, employment, housing and social-development minister in the last run of NDP government.
Rob Fleming – The NDP education critic has had a high-profile political run in the Victoria region, where he is MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake.
George Heyman – The Vancouver-Fairview MLA came to politics in 2013. He was executive director of the Sierra Club BC and has been a three-term president of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union. In opposition, he has had a high profile as environment critic.
Ravi Kahlon – The rookie Delta-North MLA has made the jump from being an insider – he was stakeholder relations director for the NDP caucus – to politician. He was first elected in the May election. Mr. Kahlon also competed for Canada in a pair of Olympic games. His specialty: field hockey.
Melanie Mark – She has been an MLA only since winning a by-election in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant last year, but she has served as associate deputy representative for the B.C. Office of the Representative for Children and Youth.
Michelle Mungall – One of few NDP MLAs from outside the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island, the former Nelson city councillor has been MLA for Nelson-Creston since 2009. In 2014, she was co-chair (with David Eby) of Mr. Horgan's leadership campaign. She has been a critic for social development and caucus deputy house leader.
Bruce Ralston – The former Surrey city councillor has been an MLA since 2005, juggling various critic roles, including finance, natural-gas development and softwood.
Jinny Sims – Ms. Sims knows education, likely to be a hot issue for the NDP. She is a former president of the BC Teachers Federation. She was also a one-term NDP MP, defeated in 2015.
Shane Simpson – Stalwart prominent MLA first elected in 2005 in Vancouver-Hastings. Since then, Mr. Simpson has been a critic on various files including labour, housing and the environment. Mr. Simpson has also been opposition caucus chair.