BC NDP Leader John Horgan says he is a man with a plan.
And he’s confident he can execute everything he has set out to do.
“I hear about that all the time, ‘How is this going to be possible?’ and I say, ‘For as long as I can remember, 44 has been a higher number than 43 and we now have to go and make it work,'” he told Global News in an exclusive one-on-one interview. “We’ve talked to the Green caucus, we’ve worked out an arrangement where we can agree on the things we can agree on, and agree to disagree on those that we cannot.”
“And I believe that once we get going with a new approach to government, with a new approach to leadership, focused on people and the issues they want addressed, I think Liberals will come on board as well.”
Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals won 43 seats in the May 9 election, one short of a majority, while the NDP and Greens combined to win 44 seats.
The legislature is set to reconvene Thursday and it is expected that Clark’s minority government will soon be defeated in a confidence vote, making way for a minority New Democrat government supported by the Green party.
“I had an expectation that on election night that there would be a verdict and I think British Columbians felt that way also,” Horgan said.
“This is an extraordinary time and I’m working through it on a personal level, but more importantly I’m concerned about people and they’re not getting the government they voted for.”
Horgan is not willing to compromise on any platform promises he made and is confident the BC NDP can execute those promises.
“First order of business is to get big money out of politics,” he said. “So we’ve already got legislation ready to go, we’ve tabled it six times already so we’re going to move with that right away.
He also said he will tackle the issue of punishing new U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood exports.
“We have a crisis in rural British Columbia, our resource communities are concerned that a big big tariff from a now-protectionist United States, is going to have a negative impact on jobs and the economy in rural B.C. So we need to make sure we’re right into Washington, working with the federal government to protect jobs here in the forest industry.”
Horgan also said they will eliminate tolls on all bridges, as promised, and hope to have legislation tabled by September.
He also said they will be freezing hydro rates for customers next year.
When it comes to the Site C Dam project, Horgan has called for an independent review of its economic viability.
“I believe there are a whole bunch of opportunities to create jobs right across B.C. that are in the interest of growing and expanding our economy,” he said. “The Site C project is the first project that BC Hydro has ever brought forward that didn’t get approval by the independent B.C. Utilities Commission. What I campaigned on, and what I’ve agreed with the Green caucus to do, is put the question to the utilities commission: continue the project as it’s going now, is this the best project for B.C. right now? What are the consequences of these massive investments when we don’t need the energy?
“Those are the questions we need answers to and the Liberals, if they were confident in the project, would have done that two years ago.
“We need to make sure that we’re building infrastructure right across B.C. There will be lots of jobs for people, and again, I can’t wait to get started.”
Horgan confident in the future
Despite the current agreement between the BC NDP and the Green party that would give them 44 seats, Horgan remains confident in the future of B.C. and the BC NDP.
“What I want to do, before anything else, is assure people that we want to have a stable government that focuses on the things that we campaigned on and things that we heard on the doorstep — affordability, housing in B.C… the fentanyl crisis, getting worse not better, education, public education, K to 12 is going to be in crisis again in September because we have to implement class size and class composition rules from the Supreme Court,” he said.
“So there’s lots of work to do and I think if we focus on that, we’ll be fine.”
He said he thinks the public support will be there if the party proves they are working for B.C.
“For me, it’s not about tactics and how you’re going to manoeuvre this and how you’re going to manoeuvre that, it’s how do you put forward legislation and policies that get the majority of support in the legislature? And if you do that, then you’re going to likely have a majority support in the public as well.
“We have to remember that we all got into this, whether Green, Liberal or NDP, because we want to help our neighbours.”
Horgan knows he has some work to do, however, to build confidence in the BC NDP and addressed the fact that there has been some skepticism around how the party is going to fund all of its promises.
“We fully costed what we wanted to do and we laid it out for the public and it was, I believe, a pretty successful campaign for us,” he said. “Certainly in the Lower Mainland. We’ve got some work to do in rural B.C., that’s why one of the first orders for me was to go up to Cranbrook, talk about softwood lumber in that critically important part of British Columbia.
“There’s a lot of frowns on Liberal faces right now but the vast majority of people who got out and voted in this campaign voted for change. And I want to deliver that change.”