John Horgan has ‘no regrets’ about NDP campaign
BC NDP leader visits Metro Vancouver to talk about the election campaign and his plans for housing, the economy and how to tackle the overdose crisis.
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Win or lose, John Horgan won’t spend his post-election days soul searching and wondering what could have been.
That’s how his B.C. NDP party spent its time reeling from a disastrous 2013 election that saw it lose with a meek campaign that refused to call out the beleaguered Liberal government of the day.
“I made a commitment when I became leader that I was going to hold Christy Clark accountable for her choices and the record that she has to stand for,” said Horgan, who has had his character and temperament called into question by rivals during a fierce campaign. “We didn’t do that effectively last time. The response I’m getting back from the doorstep is, ‘Go get ‘em’. They want a champion, someone who will go in there and play tough for them on the issues that matter to them.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I have zero regrets.”
The self-admitted “passionate” Irishman was brought in as a response to that criticism and – with just a handful of days left before May 9’s vote – says he’s delivered on his mandate.
As in 2013, the NDP find themselves leading in many public opinion polls (Horgan puts no stock in those, by the way).
The same questions about the 1990s and fiscal responsibility continue to plague them.
This time, at least, Horgan thinks the NDP have punched back.
He’s chosen the “vote-rich” Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and the Interior as his battlegrounds for the final days of the campaign and he says he’s targeting Liberal supporters who have become disillusioned with the governing party to break its 16-year stranglehold in the province.
“Before I put my head down on a pillow, I’m told what the next day is going to be like. It’s going to be a busy, busy five days for me but we’re not going to drive all over British Columbia,” Horgan said. “We’re going to go the places that we need to go. If we can keep going and focus on people from now until election day, I’m hopeful I’ll be successful.”
Horgan on housing
High housing prices are a “genie” that can’t be put “back in the bottle,” John Horgan said during an interview with Metro reporters, emphasizing that a B.C. NDP government would concentrate on dramatically increasing housing supply as a solution to unaffordable housing woes.
“The $600,000 increase in the benchmark price in homes between 2014 and 2016…we’re now up here, so how do we give confidence to young voters and young citizens that they’re ever going to get into the housing market?”
Horgan said his party’s commitment to build 114,000 units of housing over 10 years, including rental, housing co-operatives and non-profit housing, will help stabilize the housing market. He’s promising to pair the effort with support of Metro Vancouver’s transit expansion plan.
“So people have places to live and then maybe (they can) save up enough money to break into what is going to be an extremely expensive market for a considerable period of time,” Horgan said.
That initiative, he promised, would also create jobs: “Jobs for construction workers, not building pipelines for bitumen, but building transit and transportation so we can build housing along those corridors to dampen the growth in prices but also provide rental stock.”
Horgan said the Liberals had not done enough to reign in speculation in the market. The B.C. Liberal government introduced a 15 per cent foreign buyer’s tax on Metro Vancouver home sales, but the NDP are proposing what they are calling a “yearly two per cent absentee speculators’ tax.” Horgan has said the NDP will take a second look at the 15 per cent tax if his party is elected.
In Horgan's own words: the economy
I see tremendous potential ahead of us on the energy side, in forestry, and in our major urban centres we've got tourism opportunities (and) high-tech opportunities.
On the resources side, we want to see more economic activity, not less … We have to create opportunities for investment in value-added products. I certainly want to make sure the mining sector continues to prosper … We can invest in retrofitting our public institutions — it creates jobs and reduces our carbon footprint … and an aggressive investment in transit.
The sky's the limit for British Columbia. The innovators are here, and a government that's working with everybody can realize outstanding results.
In Horgan's own words: overdose crisis
“This is a crisis for all British Columbians … What we’ve committed to in our platform is to create a Minister Responsible for Mental Health and Addictions … I want to have someone I can look to every morning and say, did you make progress yesterday? Are we making lives better today? Do we have in place the treatment beds that we need? Are we looking at alternative therapies? Are we making sure there are appropriate safe injection sites? Do we have first responders with the tools they need to keep people alive?”