John Horgan, candidate for NDP leadership
Involved with the NDP since 1983, he's served as MLA for Juan de Fuca since 2005.
With less than a month to go in the campaign, Horgan has many ideas on what he'd do if he eventually became B.C.'s premier, but he says his main priority right now is tax fairness.
“My community is a working class community. The burden, the MSP premiums, the HST, increased costs, hydro rates going up 50 percent, the constant barrage on the middle income family, these are my concerns,” he said during an interview with the Vancouver Observer last week.
“Increasing the minimum wage is a good step in the right direction by Clark, but it’s those middle income people that are paying MSP premiums at the same rate that high income people are. That tells me that maybe medical services premiums are old news and we should do away with them altogether. And try and strike some balance in our tax system to meet those costs. That’s something that I’ve been talking about a lot,” he said.
Horgan's single mother became a role model in his early life, and later, his brothers made a similar impression.
They kept him on the right track, he said, and he ended up becoming the only one in his family to get a post-secondary degree. He has a Masters of Arts degree in political science and history.
His political career started shortly after.
“My first job was opening the mail on Parliament Hill. I needed to pay the rent and an MP gave me a job and then I was hooked,” Horgan said. “And now I’m sitting here in the bus station wanting to be leader of the B.C. NDP. So it was not a plan. It was just a series of convenient events, rather than unfortunate events.”
His strong emphasis on the importance of environmental issues comes from his wife, a freshwater ecologist.
“She highlighted, for me, some of the things that I had not noticed growing up. The beauty and splendor of British Columbia. Coming from Ontario, things that I just took for granted, she was seeing for the first time. And her excitement from a scientific perspective changed it for me. It wasn’t just ‘yeah, it’s a river. Get over it.’ It was 'what’s involved in the ecosystem?’”
He also tries to keep his pulse on what his constituents care about, he said.
Horgan recently spent nine hours in a car driving from the Kootenays to Vancouver with three snowboarders in their twenties as part of a ride share.
“My snowboarder focus group, I call them. They said ‘Oh we’re not political at all. We don’t know anything about politics.’ But they had a lot of ideas. A lot of ideas that they had never connected to politics."
“And to have someone who wanted to be premier sitting in the backseat for nine hours, by the time that we arrived they were very much engaged in politics,” Horgan said.