As the premier’s representative responsible for helping local MLAs establish the Columbia Basin trust, BC NDP leadership candidate John Horgan spent the mid-1990s at “just about every swimming hole you can imagine in the region” and has a collection of photos from family trips to the S.S. Moyie.
Which may explain why he is the first of the seven New Democrat and Liberal leadership hopefuls who have toured the region to make a special point of heading up to Kaslo.
“In my opinion it’s one of the most beautiful spots in the Kootenays,” Horgan said a day after visiting the village, while making a Friday stop in Nelson. “I’ve got a special place in my heart for Kaslo.”
But when the Vancouver Island MLA—a voluminous speaker, who talks at an almost breakneck speed—was asked what else sets him apart from his leadership rivals, he was quick to admit there’s much that’s similar about him and the campaign’s frontrunners.
“I’m taller than Mike [Farnworth], I’m faster than Adrian [Dix],” he joked. “Our policy divisions will be minor.”
Where he differs, he says, is on approach to government. A “fixer” in his days as a political staffer, Horgan says he’d draw on that experience as party leader.
“Each situation requires a different solution, and they’re usually not ideologically based. They’re usually around personality if it’s an internal matter, or it’s about process and structure,” he said.
“The other two candidates have different views on the role and function of government—what government does in society is a question we have to ask ourselves.”
He’s also helping his gift of the gab (or ability to “talk till I’m blue in the face or the tape runs out,” as he put it in one of many asides) can win over non-New Democrats.
“I’m Irish, so I talk a lot, and I’m comfortable with people,” he says. “And I think that four or five per cent of the electorate that we need to actually form a government will be receptive to my message.”
Horgan is the third NDP candidate to visit Nelson, after Farnworth and Dix. All three will be back in the city March 24, when the party’s leadership debate comes to town.
The BC New Democrat leadership vote is set for April 17.