Wednesday, April 16, 2014
leadership candidate visits Chilliwack
NDP leadership candidate MLA John Horgan
had lunch with Gwen O'Mahony (L), Patti MacAhonic and supporters at
Coffee Plus on Yale Rd. Tuesday.
no one standing between him and the leadership of the BC NDP, it's expected
that on May 1, Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan will be acclaimed the party's
On Tuesday, the Chilliwack NDP membership held a campaign
fundraiser lunch for Horgan at Coffee Plus on Yale Rd.
Judging from the enthusiastic reception, Horgan has
plenty of support in Chilliwack.
After lunch, Horgan, along with former Chilliwack-Hope
MLA Gwen O'Mahony, and former Chilliwack candidate Patti MacAhonic, met with
When asked if she planned to run in the 2017 election,
MacAhonic wouldn't say, however she indicated it could be a possibility with
Horgan as leader.
"With John, it makes it a lot more attractive, I'll tell you that," she
"With all the changes to BC Hydro and everything that was happening at the
time, for most people, they don't understand the complexity of actually what
was happening and John spoke very well to that and I was really up on the
file because of my position," said MacAhonic. "I think John is perfect. He's
a fighter. He knows the issues. He's a smart guy and he has integrity, and
he's not afraid to hold feet to the fire and ask the right questions, which
need to be asked of the Liberals, and stand up to the record which is what's
needed. I couldn't be more pleased."
O'Mahony was equally illusive about running.
"You never know what's going to happen. It's a long way off. But you know
what they say; the minute an election ends, a new one begins. And I think
it's no surprise that I've been quite active in the community and will
continue to do so and I want to echo Patti's endorsement of John," explained
O'Mahony. "I mean, this is really exciting and as I mentioned earlier to the
crowd that's gathered here, John is a highly respected member and he's done
well in the portfolios that he's taken, and I think he's bang on when he
says the party needs to unify and he's the man to do it."
"I don't think anyone speaks ill of John. People adore John," she added.
Note: The following is reporters questions and
answers Tuesday with John Horgan. There wasn't enough time then, so the
Voice submitted the rest of our questions via e-mail to which Mr. Horgan
indicated he would try to find time this weekend to get to them. Watch the
Voice for more on this later.
It could be seen as a good thing that you
have been acclaimed, or you will be in May, um, in that it unified the
party, could it also be seen as a bad thing though that you don't get your
party in the spotlight having a leadership convention?
Horgan: I think that it's a mixed blessing. There are those who are
making the case that a leadership race is robust, brings forward new ideas
and there's a debate and people come to different candidates because they're
excited about change.
I think there's also the downside when you have two people like myself and
Mike Farnworth, who have been friends for 20-years, who would sit down and
agree on our similarities more than we would find differences of opinion on
The NDP is also a party of grassroots policy, not leader-down policy.
In the last leadership race in 2011, Adrian (Dix), myself, Mike Farnworth,
Dana Larson and Nick Simon, travelled around the province, five of us,
trying to make connections with people leading into an election. Adrian was
successful. We lost the election. Now I think what the party needs, and
basically what I've seen over the past eight months is a consensus candidacy
in me, where people from every corner of the province, every level of
municipal politicians, former candidates, current MLAs, members of
Parliament, have come to my team as the "Unity Team", that we will build
around my leadership by demonstrating that we have depth, and in the
leadership campaign becomes the culpable personality. What I want is to
demonstrate the strength that we have in every region at the grassroots
level and that's the quest for me for the next three years, is to build on
the strengths that we have in communities, rather than highlighting any
strengths that I have as the 'front guy' for the NDP.
The Voice: How important is Mike Harcourt's support right now?
Horgan: Mike, in my opinion, laid out the road map for success. Mike
was a mentor of mine as I was growing up in politics. I've talked with him
several times. I haven't since he made his announcement (no longer a party
member), but I did just prior to it and I knew that he was frustrated with
the party, frustrated with our loss of the importance of balance between the
environment and the economy. We are no longer telling a story that speaks to
sustainability, which was his mantra as premier, nor do we speak about the
importance of extracting the most value from our resources.
So my job, as leader of the opposition, and leader of the NDP, is to make
sure that balanced message breaks through with people in every corner of the
The Times: What was the biggest mistake made in last election?
Horgan: Not holding the government to account for their record.
Twelve-years in power, disarray in every possible sector. Jobs lost in
forestry, a slow-down in mining. You look at look at the press releases that
the government, the public affairs bureau pushes out, several hundreds of
people that corral you poor journalists and bombard you daily with news of
things that may come to pass in the future, rather than giving you the
information about what's actually happening; child poverty rates, the
inequality that's growing in every community, the lack of silviculture, the
forest sector is in steep, steep decline as we continue to export more and
more raw logs. Those are the realities of the economy of today. That's not
the realities that the liberals portray. In the last campaign, we didn't
tell that story effectively, and we lost.
The Times: Was it comparatively that idea of staying positive?
Horgan: I'm absolutely supportive of being positive. I need to tell
our story. we need to tell people why they should support us. But we have to
have a counterpoint to that, and that's the essence of a political debate.
This is my point of view. This is what Patti and I stand for. But this is
what the other guy's have done. Public, you have an opportunity and choice
here and what we're hoping to deliver to you and what they have been doing
We didn't do the what-did-they-do-to-you part at all, and the public in many
parts of the province decided to stay with the government that they knew,
rather than the government that they didn't know.
But again, if you look at the map, look at the coast, we have 7 seats in
Vancouver, all of Burnaby, New Westminster. We lose seats in the Fraser
Canyon and in the North, and that's where now we have to focus all of our
attention. Kamloops, Prince George, here in Chilliwack.
StarFM: Some people say that it was Adrian's faux pas stance on the
pipeline that may have done the NDP in. What are your thoughts on Kinder
Morgan and Enbridge and will you keep that message consistent?
Horgan: Well certainly the message on Enbridge is consistent. We as a
caucus intervened in the National Energy Board hearing. I'm the energy
critic. I led that campaign and I don't believe that a Northern Gateway
Pipeline is in the best interest of our province and the best interest of
our economy. Certainly the people in the region feel that way. As recently
as this weekend, that the people of Kitimat voted resoundingly against it.
It's interesting that a 59-41 vote is "close" in British Columbia and it's a
resounding victory in any other part of the country. But the people in
Kitimat said 'no', unequivocally. First Nations have been saying no to
When it comes to Kinder Morgan, my view before the election, and even during
the election, was that they should be entitled to make their case to the
regulator and that's what Mike Harcourt said.
Mike Harcourt doesn't support a pipeline into the Lower Mainland. What he
supports is a rigorous environmental assessment process that allows
investments to make their case. The media, and Adrian, left the public with
the impression that he wasn't prepared to allow them to make their case.
What he said was, he didn't think that the people in the
Lower Mainland wanted Vancouver and Burrard Inlet to become a Super Export
Port for Alberta Oil. That's what he said, which became; 'Oh, that means
you're against it.'
What he was doing in my opinion, was speaking the reality of our community.
Derrik Corrigan, the very successful, multiple-term mayor of Burnaby
declared he'll lie down in front of bulldozers. The various Nations around
the Burrard Inlet will be in war canoes if there's the prospect of increased
The mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, says he's opposed as well.
So, I think Adrian was speaking the political realities of our time and what
Harcourt responded to and what I believe I support Mike in, is that if we're
going to attract investment to BC which we must do, we need to make sure our
processes are robust, and transparent, and everyone should be allowed to
make their case.
There are good projects and there are bad projects and we should depend on
science and rigorous examinations to make those conclusions.
The Times: How will you balance that if you end up becoming premier
in 2017, and I'm going to say that we're going to get the green light, I can
see no way that they not approve it, how will you balance that, like in
2017, they'll be digging ground?
Horgan: Well, if they're digging ground, then we'll inherit a battle
in communities and we'll have to deal with that. But my views today as a
prospective candidate, and two weeks from today if you asked me the same
question, it would be that Kinder Morgan has every opportunity to make their
case to the public and BC through our environmental assessment process and
that's what they're doing. We'll see how the chips fall from there, but
science should decide our thinking on these matters. As you say that it's a
Brownfield opportunity. There is a couple of loops, if you look at the math,
that are not consistent with current right-of-way or the existing
right-of-way, and I think that's where those who are vigorously opposed to
this project can put their flag down and make their case against the
But, it's my view that I'm a political representative for the constituency
of Juan de Fuca, n the west coast of Vancouver Island which does not want to
see a nine-fold increase in tanker traffic. That's the view of my
constituents, so I'll be guided by that and by the science, when I make a
decision, if I have to make a decision.
The Voice: You say on your website that you have measures in place to
mitigate the BC Hydro rate increases, can you elaborate on that?
Horgan: I brought forward a private members Bill called the
Hydro Affordability Act. You can go to the (Legislative) Assembly web
site and you can download the Bill. It's a simple amendment to the Utilities
Commission Act that would allow the Commission to set what is called a
'lifeline rate'. Which would be in essence a means test; individuals,
homeowners, hydro users, ratepayers can make their case to the regulator
that they're is sufficiently low that it would be arduous for them to pay
the 28 per cent over five years that Hydro is contemplating.
Other jurisdictions, California most notably, have lifeline rates for many
of their utilities, so that people on fixed income, seniors and those on
disability benefits, are not forced to pay the market rate for power because
of this low income threshold. So it's a simple solution for those who
absolutely cannot afford to pay 9 per cent more this month than they did
last month, and over the term of the 5-year plan, 28 per cent is enormous.
That's going to have a drag on the economy. That's certainly going to have a
significant impact on families. It's a simple amendment. I proposed it in
2008, when the Utilities Act was being amended so that they didn't look at
anything like capital projects, rate carryings that had been cancelled.
Hydro is in disarray. The Liberals have no plan. This is a modest solution
to the problems that they've been creating.
For more about John Horgan, visit his web site at:
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