One of the most popular politicians and familiar faces in northern British Columbia won’t seek re-election.
BC Liberal MLA Mike Morris, who served 32 years in the RCMP before entering politics, said it’s time for somebody else to carry the party’s banner.
“I have been in public service for 50 years. I thought the time has come to (step away) and give people in the region the opportunity to give it lots of thought to what they might be able to offer the residents of (riding) in the upcoming election,” he said.
“It’s time. I will be 70 this year. I have got grandkids, I have got all kind of things I’d like to do.”
Voters in Prince George-Mackenzie elected Morris in 2013, 2017 and 2020. He received no less than 50 per cent in any of the three elections and approached 60 per cent in 2017 when he won more than 57 per cent of the vote.
He served as Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General from December 2015 to July 2017. He was also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Morris is deeply familiar with Prince George specifically and northern B.C. generally. He started his career with the RCMP in 1973 in Prince George before returning to the community in 1996, where he also returned in 2005 as Superintendent for the North District. Between his stops in Prince George, Morris served mainly across northern British Columbia notwithstanding a stop in Vancouver and Alberta, transferring 14 times overall.
Morris said his RCMP career gave him a deep familiarity with the geography, economy and infrastructure of northern British Columbia, as well as its people and its towns.
His RCMP career also helped him prepare for his career after it.
“Policing and politics have a lot in common and that’s people and that’s problems and that’s policy and that’s trying to solve problems that are causing public safety issues,” he said.
“I didn’t realize it until I got into politics. It’s was a great transitional platform to get into politics. You are used to dealing with legislation, I am used to case law, I am used to knowing what the authorities are for anybody to do anything. It was a good training ground for me and of course, it taught me a lot of patience, which is what you need, when you are politics, because things don’t move fast.”
Morris, who has a great interest in bio-diversity, said that he hopes he moved the needle on the public’s understanding of B.C.’s forests.
During his tenure, Morris led infrastructure projects around Prince George, including replacing two major bridges on Highway 97 – both “sorely needed to enhance transportation north of town.”
It is not clear yet who will be replacing Morris, which is one of the reasons he gave plenty of time for the party to find their next candidate before the next election anticipated for October 2024.
Leaving sooner is former premier John Horgan whose last day is expected on March 31.
Melanie Mark will also be leaving, although that exact timeline remains unknown.