WATCH: CKNW asks Vancouver if they know John Horgan
With less than 100 days to go before the next election, the man who hopes to unseat Premier Christy Clark isn’t just fighting the BC Liberals – he’s also fighting for name recognition.
CKNW conducted an informal street poll in downtown Vancouver, and of just over 70 people asked only five were able to identify NDP leader John Horgan.
Is it a problem? Not if you ask Horgan, who says he relishes the challenge and takes each new encounter as chance to introduce himself.
In a wide-ranging interview with Global BC’s Sophie Lui, Horgan says as a cancer survivor he takes each day as an opportunity.
“People say ‘I don’t know who you are’ when I travel around, and I go ‘let me tell you who I am.'”
Horgan says between elections, most people aren’t focused on Victoria but rather their jobs, their families, and getting by. He says he expects that to change soon.
“It speaks to how little people pay attention to politics until just before the election. And I know as we get closer to the campaign and signs start going up people will be going well there’s an election going on what are the choices? … My name, my ideas, my character will start to come forward at that time, and this is part of that process.”
WATCH: John Horgan on name recognition, why he wants to be Premier
Horgan admits getting exposure can be tough, but says he’s prepared to fight back against things like “SayAnythingJohn,” that look to define him as a flip-flopper.
“Because the BC liberals are swimming in cash and their friends are swimming in cash they’re going to spend a lot of money trying to tell people who I am and what I stand for. And my challenge is to go up against that big money and make the case that I’m a regular guy, I’m just like everyone else out there.”
Asked why he wants B.C.’s top job, and the hot seat that comes with it, Horgan says it’s about standing up for his neighbours.
“I’ve had people help me all my life. I had a tough road to follow… my personal story, my road to get to where I am today is littered with people who said let me help you. And I want to give that back. I want to help people, I want to make sure that the Government of B.C. is doing everything it can to make life better for people today.”
So just where does the NDP leader stand on the key issues?
On the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, Horgan is clear he’s no fan – arguing it’s not in B.C.’s interest, despite the possible jobs upside.
“We need to do something about the challenges in rural British Columbia, I acknowledge that, but the solutions the Liberals have been putting forward have been ineffective. … The Liberals want me in a box that says no. I want to be in a box that says what can we do to make B.C. better.”
Horgan says the province would be better served putting its efforts into the film, manufacturing, and IT sectors – or putting up cash the Liberals have fronted for LNG to defend B.C. in the brewing softwood lumber dispute.
As for B.C.’s other megaproject, the Site-C dam, Horgan says electricity rates are going up while demand is going down – but won’t be pinned down on a yes or no answer.
Instead he says he’d leave the decision to the B.C. utilities commission, to free it from what he describes as political interference
WATCH: John Horgan on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and top campaign issues
On housing affordability, Horgan is singing a similar tune to the BC Liberals in one area at least: more supply.
“We do that by not pointing fingers at municipalities and blaming them, but by working with them and making sure they have the tools to rapidly approve projects so we can increase density and increase supply.”
Unlike the Liberals, however, he’s pledging more money for the transit and schools to support that density. On Transit, Horgan says the NDP would put up 40% of capital funding, versus the 33% currently in place. For education, he wouldn’t give a figure citing the need to see the revenue projections in the 2017 budget, due in later this month.
Another big spending promise: the NDP’s marquee policy of $10 a day child care. Horgan says it will eventually pay for itself as women return to the workforce and pay taxes, but up front it will require new taxes.
Horgan says those will be levied on B.C.’s wealthiest. Just how much? He says we’ll have to wait until after the budget.
He’s also got BC’s unpopular MSP premiums in the crosshairs, arguing no other province in the country uses the system.
“Why haven’t we been able here in British Columbia to figure out a way to fund our health system without having this flat tax that the richest people pay the same as the poorest people. It makes no sense.”
So with so many spending priorities, will Horgan commit to a balanced budget?
“We’ll see what happens in February,” he says, while hinting, based on Justin Trudeau’s success on a deficit platform, that we might see the chains come off.
“I think the fixation on balanced budgets might well be misplaced in 2017. And we have to look not just at the bottom line fiscally, but what are the social consequences of that balanced budget.”
Horgan will be live on Steele & Drex at 4 p.m. Thursday, and you can catch more of his interview with Sophie Lui on the Global News Hour at 6 p.m.