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British Columbia For John Horgan, suspense then euphoria – and now the serious business of running a province

After he had orchestrated the fall of the B.C. Liberal government, NDP Leader John Horgan returned to his office to wait.

Premier Christy Clark was off to see Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon about the future of her government. An aide to Ms. Guichon had earlier contacted Mr. Horgan's office to get a phone number of someone in the event the Lieutenant-Governor needed to summon the NDP Leader.

For much of the 90 minutes that Ms. Clark spent behind closed doors at Government House, Mr. Horgan was in his office watching television coverage of the goings-on and following commentary on Twitter. But he also did something he often does when he finds himself in a contemplative, reflective mood: He starting lobbing a soft rubber ball against his office wall with the lacrosse stick he keeps near his desk.

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"It's sort of like Steve McQueen throwing that ball against the prison wall in The Great Escape," Mr. Horgan would recall the next day in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "I find it just helps me relax."

Related: With NDP set to form government, the fight for B.C. has only just begun

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When Ms. Clark exited Government House and told reporters Ms. Guichon had retired to make her decision, Mr. Horgan and his senior staff were momentarily confused. Maybe they weren't going to hear from her after all, they thought. But just then, Mr. Horgan's top aide, Bob Dewar, got a call from the Lieutenant-Governor's personal secretary: Ms. Guichon was requesting Mr. Horgan's immediate presence.

"I knew there were a variety of options at her disposal," Mr. Horgan would recall. "I wasn't sure which one she wanted to discuss with me. But ultimately it was a pretty brief conversation. She raised a couple of issues around process and how the House would work and then she asked if I could form government, and I told her I could.

"She told me that she didn't believe an election was warranted and it was our responsibility as elected politicians to make it work. But she did not make herself the issue, which I think is wonderful."

In fact, Judith Guichon couldn't have conducted herself more professionally throughout the entire affair.

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Now close to 8:30 p.m., Mr. Horgan and his staff were starving. They piled into a car and headed for Garrick's Head pub in downtown Victoria to revel in the historic events of the day.

"It was very casual," Mr. Horgan said. "A bunch of friends and strangers and everyone was just so happy. I had a beer and a burger. It was a wonderfully spontaneous celebration that was so appropriate I think."

By Friday morning, Mr. Horgan had already turned to the serious business of forming government. A group that had been preparing for transition moved into hyper-drive after the transfer of power became a certainty. There are loads of briefings Mr. Horgan will now be subject to. No date has been set for the appointment of a cabinet, he said. In all likelihood, however, it will take place in a few weeks.

He has already begun forming his list of early priorities. The fentanyl crisis is near the top of that list, as is the softwood-lumber dispute that is threatening B.C.'s forest industry. He wants to inject more funding into the education system immediately. There are other issues, meantime, that were latterly embraced by the Liberal government that he is hoping he can get a consensus on in the legislature, such as daycare.

I wouldn't count on it.

Despite adopting most of the NDP and Green Party policies for their Speech from the Throne, the Liberals will be in no mood to make life easy for the New Democrats and their Green accomplices. Any major pieces of legislation will have to be pushed through a tight, one-seat majority Parliament.

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The NDP will be facing one of the most experienced oppositions in the history of the B.C. legislature. It will not be much fun many days.

One of the first pieces of legislation the NDP will introduce, Mr. Horgan said, is campaign finance reform. There are discussions that need to take place with the Green Party around the precise details of the bill, but change is indeed coming. Mr. Horgan is hoping a broader political transformation can also take place.

"I think we have a unique opportunity to really change the politics of this province," Mr. Horgan told me. "The take-no-prisoners approach that has been the hallmark of politics in this province for too long has not served the people well.

"I think we can prove that things can be done differently. Honestly, I can't wait to get going."

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