He was widely touted as leadership material, but it was a New Year’s Eve chat with old friends that convinced Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan to seek the top job in the B.C. NDP.
Horgan, a resident of Langford and a two-term MLA, announced his intention to run for the leadership of the official Opposition on Monday night at Isabelle Reader Theatre.
“In my view, at this point in history in B.C. politics, I have a unique opportunity to make a real difference not only in my community, but on the Island and across the province,” Horgan said in an interview.
“It came down to a whole host of different things, but the final decision came on New Year’s Eve with some life-long friends. They convinced me I have something to offer to the province.”
After Nicholas Simons and Harry Lali, Horgan is the third NDP MLA to launch a leadership campaign. Other high-profile New Democrats such as Adrian Dix and Mike Farnworth are expected to make announcements this week.
Former NDP leader Carole James stepped down Dec. 6 after 13 NDP MLAs publicly refused to support their leader. Horgan didn’t join the rebellion and backed James throughout the internal dispute.
Horgan said he’s happy to have a vigorous policy debate with his colleagues in the run-up to the April 17 NDP leadership election. The NDP needs to demonstrate to the electorate it can heal its internal divisions and field a large number of strong candidates, he said.
“I’ve got no problem arguing with friends over policy,” Horgan said. “If the NDP is to compete … it needs to show it has more in the bag than one or two candidates.”
Horgan was elected MLA of Malahat-Juan de Fuca by a solid margin in 2005 and by a landslide in the new Juan de Fuca riding in 2009.
He campaigned on establishing commuter rail on the West Shore and has served as opposition critic in education and is the current energy and mines critic. He also serves on the bipartisan provincial finance committee.
“I have a big grasp the economy and the importance of job creation and the ecological challenges across B.C., of greenhouse gases and of the shrinking land base, There are a whole host of issues” he said. “I hope to bring integrity and that experience to the table.”