Former B.C. NDP cabinet minister Melanie Mark to resign Vancouver seat, cites health

By Dirk Meissner


Melanie Mark, former New Democrat cabinet minister

Melanie Mark, former New Democrat cabinet minister

VICTORIA- Melanie Mark, a former New Democrat cabinet minister, wiped away tears Wednesday as she gave what was likely her final speech in the British Columbia legislature.

She held an eagle feather and wore her grandfather’s beaded, buckskin jacket as she looked back on a political career but forward to her life ahead.

The Vancouver-Mount Pleasant member of the legislature, who recently returned from a six-month medical leave, says she is leaving and expects her last day to be the end of March.

She says she wasn’t quitting but is standing up for herself and putting herself and her two daughters first.

Mark, who says she has been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is the first First Nations woman elected to B.C.’s legislative assembly, and the first to serve as a cabinet minister.

She resigned her tourism, arts, culture and sports cabinet portfolio last September and took a leave, citing health reasons.

“I have no regrets,” Mark says. “I have made mistakes, but I can’t turn back time. In many ways I have done what I came here to change.”

Mark says her proudest moment in the legislature came as advanced education minister when she helped drive government policy that waived tuition fees for youth in care, “so young kids like me could have a chance.”

Mark says she is the first person in her family to graduate from high school and the first to receive a post-secondary education.

She says she entered politics to stand up for society’s underdogs and speak up for the voiceless and those who don’t vote.

“People need to know their lives matter,” Mark says. “We need to be less partisan and have the guts to do the right things.”

First elected in 2016, Mark says her work in the legislature helped create the first Indigenous law school in the world at the University of Victoria and introduce Indigenous language courses at B.C. universities.

But Mark says she will not miss the often-adversarial political environment at the legislature.

“The place felt like a torture chamber,” she says. “I will not miss the character assassination. The fact is the political environment is cutthroat and dysfunctional.”

Former premier John Horgan announced earlier this month he is speeding up his retirement by choosing to leave his Langford-Juan de Fuca seat next month rather than his previous plan of staying until the fall 2024 election.

No byelections have been called in either Horgan’s Victoria-area riding or Mark’s Vancouver-Mount Pleasant riding.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2023.



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