Horgan warns against a return to the bad old days under BC Liberals, sings Singh’s praises

By Shannon Waters November 23, 2019

During his Saturday address at the annual NDP convention in Victoria, Premier John Horgan recounted the government’s successes over the past two years. The premier received two standing ovations during his speech — one when he mentioned the government’s child care initiatives and one when he spoke about integrating the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People into provincial law.

He touted his government’s efforts to clean up after the previous Liberal administration — on housing affordability, money laundering and the “dumpster fire” at ICBC — adding that only in “very, very few circumstances” has the NDP government not lived up to its campaign promises.

“I want those few circumstances to be put up against the record of the BC Liberals for 16 years because we can’t lose sight of how bad it was during that period of time,” he said.

He called on delegates to “go home … and organize” ahead of the next provincial election.

“You need to make sure we’re telling the story of what we’ve been able to accomplish and — more importantly — tell the stories of what is at risk if we don’t organize and focus on ensuring that we are in government after the next election.”

Horgan said he had a positive conversation with Canada’s new deputy prime minister and Intergovernmental Relations Minister Chrystia Freeland and expressed optimism about improving federal unity in the face of surging separatist sentiment in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

“I think we’re in a good place,” Horgan said. “It doesn’t matter what color the jersey is — red, blue, orange — we need to all put aside those issues and talk about what’s in the best interest of Canada.”

Horgan was effusive about federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who addressed delegates later in the day.

“I’m ecstatic with Jagmeet’s leadership,” Horgan told reporters. “He has been just a breath of fresh air … I think he’s a symbol for all of us and the type of candidate that I want to see.”

Singh, in turn, praised Horgan for being a team player and taking a “reasonable” approach to relations with Ottawa.

“His goal isn’t to be a thorn in the side for no reason as we have seen other premiers do — his goal is to deliver results for the people who live here,” Singh said. “He’s making incredible gains for people, and he wants to be able to partner at the federal level to deliver those things.”

Singh said he too is hoping for a collaborative relationship with the federal Liberals.

“The goal that I have is not to tear down government but to find ways to push the Liberal government to deliver for people,” he told reporters.

Despite announcing a willingness to vote against the federal government’s forthcoming throne speech — a move that could topple the Liberal minority and trigger another election — Singh said he’s hoping “to be more constructive” and get “real commitments” from Ottawa on funding dental care, addressing climate change and dropping the federal government’s appeal of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling regarding compensation for Indigenous children unfairly removed from their families.

“I want to see some words and some commitments in the [throne] speech that show that the prime minister understands that he needs to work with New Democrats,” Singh said.