John Horgan thinks of himself as a student of history.
The NDP Leader studied history in university where he researched the CCF, the party that was the predecessor to the modern NDP.
But Horgan is acutely aware of his party’s struggle to form governments in B.C.
The NDP has been runner-up in 15 of the last 18 B.C. elections, losing to either the Social Credit Party or B.C. Liberals, who have won the last four provincial elections.
Horgan, however, believes the current political climate is right to see their losing streak come to an end.
“As a student of history … what I believe is happening now is quite different from any other election we’ve ever had,” he said.
“Our message is a simple one: people are falling further behind. Affordability is the number one issue on everybody’s lips. It’s not just housing, it’s a whole host of things. The services that people depend on just aren’t there for them anymore.”
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According to a recent Ipsos poll, the Liberals now have a two-point lead over the NDP. Currently, 43 per cent of decided voters say they would be most likely to support or lean towards the Liberals, while 41 per cent favour the NDP.
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One issue that Horgan believes will tip the scale in favour of his party is housing affordability.
“How do you get the genie back in the bottle? You start by creating more supply,” he said, adding that the NDP’s plan calls for 114,000 units — rental and not-for-profit housing — to be built.
He also plans to tighten up the Liberals’ foreign buyers tax.
“I don’t think that the foreign buyers tax has had the impact the Liberals wanted it to have because it’s so easy to get around. There are massive loopholes. We’ve suggested ways to fill them. We thought they were going to fill those holes … and they just didn’t do it.”
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Horgan is also critical of the Liberals’ handling of the Site C project, saying he would have the project reviewed by the B.C. Utilities Commission.
Horgan said the NDP’s three-year fiscal plan includes a balanced budget. Horgan said his party aims to “live within our means,” but government budgets don’t always have to be balanced, especially if it comes at the expense of seniors, children and people in need.
The NDP Leader’s temperament has become an issue for some during the election campaign. His fiery speaking style has earned him the nickname “Hulk Horgan” by some on social media.
“I grew up playing lacrosse so I can take it,” he said of the jabs on social media. “I can take the attacks on me. I’m good with that.”
As his campaign enters the home stretch, Horgan is confident voters will look past old partisan divides and give the NDP its first election win of the 21st century.
“I think the titanic struggles of left and right of the past are no longer relevant to people. I don’t think ideology matters that much,” he said.
“I think what matters is, who’s going to work for me? And the message that I’m hearing on the doorstep as I travel across B.C. is that people don’t think that the B.C. Liberals are working for them anymore.
“After 16 years of neglect of the services that they care about, they’re looking for other options. That’s an opportunity for me to put forward our ideas about how we can make B.C. better.”
—With files from Keith Baldrey and Jill Slattery