B.C. Premier John Horgan had a clear message for his B.C. NDP at year’s end.
“If we’re going to be a government that governs for all British Columbians, we have to set aside our activism and start being better administrators,” he said in an interview with Global BC’s Keith Baldrey to cap off an eventful 2017 for the NDP leader.
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It’s a year that saw Horgan lead the NDP to a minority of seats in the legislature before the party entered a four-year agreement with the BC Greens that would put them in government.
As part of the deal, the parties agreed to bring in a new voting system, ban corporate and union donations and review the Site C hydroelectric dam.
The latter condition was met when the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) delivered a report that did not make a recommendation on whether Site C should continue, but said the project would be unlikely to be on time or on budget.
The B.C. NDP eventually decided that the dam should continue, reasoning that cancelling it would mean a “$4-billion hit.”
Speaking in his year-end interview, Horgan said that deciding to continue the dam was a “very difficult choice for me personally” but he said the government had to “look at what was in the best interests of British Columbia.”
“We looked on balance at the impact of proceeding or the impact of stopping the dam and we just couldn’t see $4 billion for nothing and I think that the public would understand that as well.”
Horgan said he feels the pain of those who are frustrated about the dam, but he noted that it’s “25 per cent complete and to walk away now would have had an impact on our ability to build schools, hospitals, transit and other transportation infrastructure.”
With the decision on Site C out of the way, Horgan said the government is looking forward to its February budget, which will focus on issues such as child care and housing — two issues that the B.C. NDP campaigned on.
The premier said earlier this week that the budget will include tax changes that could affect demand for housing.
During the election, the B.C. NDP had promised to usher in a two-per-cent absentee speculators tax that would target people with empty homes.
They also pledged to rid B.C. of the “loopholes that let speculators dodge taxes and hide their identities.”
But Horgan admitted finding the “right answer” on housing has been challenging.
“How much intervention does the goernment have in the marketplace that’s not destabilizing, but how do we get the speculation out?” he said.
“That’s the sort of thing we’ll be talking about in February.”
With the Christmas season upon him, Horgan said he would spend the holidays in his Vancouver Island constituency of Juan de Fuca, going out along some beaches and enjoying a “West Coast winter.”
“I’ve been kind of housebound or work bound for the past six months, so I’m looking forward to getting outside,” he said.
His favourite Christmas movie? It’s a Wonderful Life., though he’s also a fan of 1951’s A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim.
“I’m a disciple of Bill Murray but his version of Scrooge just doesn’t do it for me,” Horgan said.
The premier also likes the Christmas song Fairytale of New York by the Pogues.
It’s a song about a troubled couple on Christmas, dreaming of better times.
“It’s not Christmas until I’ve listened to that,” he said.
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