Premier of British Columbia

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Premier of British Columbia
Coat of Arms of British Columbia.svg
Christy Clark by Kris Krug 05.jpg
Christy Clark

since March 14, 2011
Government of British Columbia
Office of the Premier
Style The Honourable
Member of
Reports to Legislative Assembly
Seat Victoria
Appointer Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
Term length At Her Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holder John Foster McCreight
Formation November 13, 1871

The Premier of British Columbia is the first minister, head of government, and de facto chief executive for the Canadian province of British Columbia. Until the early 1970s the title Prime Minister of British Columbia was often used. The word Premier is derived from the French word of the same spelling, meaning "first"; and ultimately from the Latin word primarius, meaning "primary".[1]

The incumbent is Christy Clark who was sworn into office on March 14, 2011.

Legal status

Although the Premier is the day-to-day leader of the provincial government, she receives the authority to govern from the Crown (represented in British Columbia by the Lieutenant Governor). Formally, in fact, the executive branch of government in British Columbia is said to be vested in the Lieutenant Governor acting by and with the advice of the Premier.

The political party that wins the largest number of seats in a general election is usually invited by the Lieutenant Governor to form the government. Its leader becomes the head of the provincial government and is known as the Premier.

The position of the Premier is not described in Canadian constitutional statutes. Instead, the position’s power and authority largely depend on her relationship with other Members of the Legislative Assembly, political party, and the public.

Formal responsibilities

The responsibilities of the Premier usually include:

  • serving as the President of the Executive Council and head of the provincial Cabinet. The Executive Council is the formal name of the Cabinet when it is acting in its legal capacity.
  • serving as the head of the provincial government
  • leading the development and implementation of government policies and priorities
  • serving as the senior communicator of government priorities and plans between:
    • the Lieutenant Governor and Cabinet
    • the British Columbia government and other provincial and territorial governments
    • the British Columbia Government and the federal government and international governments
  • providing advice to the Lieutenant Governor on the exercise of the Queen’s and the Lieutenant Governor’s powers
  • functions in respect of the Province of British Columbia, such as recommending to the Lieutenant Governor the appointment of cabinet ministers and allocating ministerial portfolios
  • serving as leader of a major political party and its caucus of MLAs
  • representing their constituency in the Legislative Assembly

President of the Executive Council

Generally, the Premier selects MLAs from their party to be appointed ministers of the Crown by the Lieutenant Governor. Cabinet appointees are designated ministers in charge of government ministries; they are responsible for the day-to-day activities of individual government ministries such as the Ministry of Forests, and for proposing new laws or changing existing ones. The Premier may also choose an individual who is not an MLA to be a cabinet minister, although on the rare occasion that this does happen, the practice is that the minister proceeds to obtain a seat in the House. The appointment of an MLA to Cabinet is based on their ability and expertise and is also influenced by political considerations such as geography, gender and ethnicity.

A cabinet minister remains in office solely at the pleasure of the Premier. The resignation of the Premier dissolves the Cabinet, but does not involve the resignation of the Executive Council as a whole or individual cabinet ministers.[2]

See also


  1. Onions, C.T. Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. 1985.
  2. Much of the information above is adapted from the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia website article "Discover more about the role of an MLA". Please see the external links.

External links