NDP leader John Horgan — Government that puts people first
There’s going to be a provincial election next year in BC.
So is shouldn’t surprise anyone to see the leaders of the provincial parties starting to rustle the bushes looking for votes.
First out of the starting gate in Nelson/Creston was John Horgan, leader of the provincial NDP who was at the Hume Hotel Friday night to meet Nelsonites and discuss his plans for the future.
“What we’re going to do to turn the tide, not just here in the Kootenays but right across BC [is] talk about issues that matter to people,” Horgan said during his speech on the state of politics in British Columbia and how the Liberal Party has been more focused on the wealthy, the corporate sector and their own fundraising rather than governing.
“We’re going to talk about the things that make communities stronger and the things that will prepare us for the future,” he said.
Horgan, MLA for the constituency of Juan de Fuca, arrived to discuss several topics including the NDP plans to raise the minimum wage, the state of education in the province and why he believes Liberal leader Christy Clark has dropped the ball on several important issues.
Local NDP MLA Michelle Mungall introduced Horgan and spoke with glowing praise about his mentorship and ability to see potential, especially in young politicians.
“As a young new MLA,” Mungall began, “even though I had loads of political experience as an activist and on city council when you walk into that building it is all new, it is big, very adversarial system. John made me feel right at home very quickly by befriending me right off the bat and mentoring me.”
Horgan continued by stressing the importance of dealing with problems like climate change and the environment by investing in education in order to ensure kids in BC can realize their potential.
“Over the past year the BC Liberals have put local school trustees through the ringer,” he said.
“They’ve said ‘we’re broke, we have no money, it’s a fragile economy. We have to make disabled people pay for their bus passes. We have to make sure school districts do their part to save money so we’re going to hold back $25 million and you have to make the tough choices’.”
Horgan went on to explain that he has attempted over the last few years to build as large a coalition as possible made up of working people, environmentalists, social activists and people of faith and make sure they leave no stone unturned until election day.
“We have to bring every vote home so we can have a government that puts people first. A government that’s focused on the interests of community and not the interests of the corporate sector,” he said.
Horgan also spoke on the NDP’s plans to raise the minimum wage to $15.
“We made that commitment already and I’m happy to make it again in Nelson. We believe that the lowest paid workers in BC need a raise. We’ve made a commitment that we’ll get to $15/hour in the first term of an NDP government,” he told The Nelson Daily.
“That means going through a progression of increases over a four-year period to get to $15. It’s the most expensive jurisdiction in the country and we need to have a minimum wage that’s competitive with our trading partners.”
Education once again came up as a primary focus for Horgan and his party, specifically in regards to the 50th anniversary of Selkirk College and the role of regional colleges.
“Education is going to be pivotal. I believe that public education is the great equalizer in this society. If we give young people the opportunity to realize their potential they’ll be full citizens, they’ll contribute more to society, they’ll make better choices than we had perhaps made in the past,” he said.
Horgan spoke on increased tuition fees being a barrier to access and that he believes these barriers need to be reduced.
“Early childhood education at the other end, K-12 and right through to post-secondary. Those are the things that are going to give us the knowledge-economy of the future and those are the tools we need to give to our young people so they can succeed. Selkirk is a classic example of that; an institution that has served the community very well and will into the future if we give them the resources and allow students access to those institutions,” he said.
Horgan also confirmed that while he has been touring since he became leader of the party, with the election only 34 weeks away this could indeed be considered a pre-election tour.
“I believe it’s the role of the leader of the political party to be in every community possible. I’ve been in non-incumbent constituencies more than I’ve been in areas like Nelson and Castlegar which are long-standing NDP constituencies.”
He said that it’s important for politicians to “earn their vote” every election.
“Every day is an opportunity to re-establish relationships with people.”