NDP team is united, Horgan says

John Horgan obviously wants to win the BC NDP leadership race but, if he doesn’t, he says it won’t be the end of the world.
“We’re all close friends,” Horgan said of himself and fellow candidates Adrian Dix and Mike Farnworth. “We’re all in this.”

  • Feb. 28, 2011 5:00 p.m.

BC NDP leadership candidate John Horgan strikes a pose while visiting Castlegar last week.

John Horgan obviously wants to win the BC NDP leadership race but, if he doesn’t, he says it won’t be the end of the world.“We’re all close friends,” Horgan said of himself and fellow candidates Adrian Dix and Mike Farnworth. “We’re all in this.”Horgan, the MLA for Juan de Fuca, said he was the MC at Dix’s wedding and Dix ran Farnworth’s first campaign in 1991. “We’re personally close but we’re all in this for the same reasons and that is to demonstrate to the broader province that there’s a depth of strength in the NDP of capable individuals — any one of us could be leader, any one of us could be premier,” he said during his stop in Castlegar last week.“We have experience in government, we have experience in opposition, we’ve travelled around, we’re comfortable in our skin, and these are key issues when you’re trying to talk to people about complex issues.”Prior to Saturday’s leadership conference, where Christy Clark was named leader of the BC Liberal Party, Horgan said he would pick a different candidate.“To be honest with you, I like George [Abbott],” he said. “I like him. He’s a nice guy. I think he and I are very similar and I think he would … probably pick me as well.”Horgan said either way, the decision made on Saturday may change his approach during the NDP campaign.“Once you know who your opponent is going to be, then you’re better able to shape what policy positions differentiate you from he or she,” Horgan explained, referring to both Clark and Kevin Falcon as “aggressive and combatitive.”On Saturday night, however, Horgan released a statement offering congratulations to Clark. “While Ms. Clark and I hold different political views, different visions for the province and a different understanding about how government can best help British Columbian families, I am certain she will devote her energies to the task ahead,” Horgan said.And different visions for the government is what Horgan believes will put the NDP ahead in the next election.“We need to, instead of being, ‘vote for us, we’re not them,’ we need to be, ‘vote for us because these are the policy initiatives we want to proceed with.’ We want to put balance back in the labour code, we want to protect the environment, we want to attract investment but ensure that capital understands they need to pay their fair share of taxes as well. So, I think that’s the mainstream view, not necessarily an NDP view, it’s what British Columbians want.”Horgan said his riding of Juan de Fuca — which sits on the outskirts of Victoria and encompasses big box stores to rugged coastline and forests — has prepared him to lead the whole province.“Langford is one of the fastest growing regions in the province, Sooke and out to Port Renfrew are fast tracks of wilderness and forest lands and poverty on First Nations reserves, so I like to think the area I represent is not dissimilar to the Cariboo or the North Coast or the Kootenays to a great extent.”And Horgan knows the Kootenays quite well, considering he was a staff person when the Columbia Basin Trust was being implemented.“I negotiated the Columbia-Kootenay Accord, I put in place the Columbia Basin Trust, wrote the legislation for Columbia Power Corporation,” Horgan listed. “I know the people and I know the benefits that flow from people giving power back to the community.”Keeping cash benefits in the region they’re extracted from is key to supporting rural areas, Horgan said, just like the Columbia Basin Trust has done.“The northwest — Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat and up through Dease Lake — enormous mineral potential there,” he said. “Commodity prices have never been so high. Copper is almost 10 times as valuable today as it was in the 1990s, which is the last time we had a major copper mine open up. The opportunity we have for growth there, to put that resource base to work for the community is extraordinary and we need to invest provincial resources so that development can take off.”Until the NDP’s leadership campaign on April 17, Horgan will continue travelling the province and meeting people of various communities.“I like people and it shines through,” he said. “I’m comfortable with the prospect of me taking over the leadership of the NDP and maybe being premier in the next election, and I’m pretty stoked about that as well.”

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