Last night, Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan announced he is running for the provincial New Democrat leadership. The above is footage of the scrum which followed that announcement. Below, is our notes of the event.
* Mr. Horgan - who has been endorsed by Ancient Forest Alliance director Ken Wu - has put land use and natural resource development issues at the front of his campaign agenda, telling audience members, "We are the most blessed people on the planet. We have a bounty that's unparalleled. We need a government that will steward that bounty in the interests of all people - not just vested interests. My commitment to you is that's exactly what the New Democrat Party will do under my leadership."
* Mr. Horgan took a strong anti-corporate line while articulating his commitment to preserve old growth forests. "Our commitment, as New Democrats, is to use our second growth forests to create jobs here, in our communities, not offshore. Old growth forests will be the bedrock of our tourism industry. Second growth forests will be the bedrock of a value-added forest industry that creates jobs here in British Columbia for British Columbians in the public interest - not in the interest of shareholders in Toronto or Bermuda but people right here."
* Mr. Horgan will also be focusing on aboriginal issues during his campaign, telling audience members, "We need a real reconciliation with our First Nations. We need to share the wealth with those that were here before we arrived and I am committed to doing that each and every day as leader of the BC NDP and as the next leader of the government of British Columbia."
* Mr. Horgan stated he was in favour of both wealth creation and the redistribution of wealth. "If we do not have a robust economy, we cannot redistribute that wealth and bridge the divide between rich and poor in our province and our country. We need to have investment," he said. But he also cautioned that "private sector investment is not a free ticket to no taxation and no regulation."
* Mr. Horgan looks like he'll be jumping aboard the straight talk express, stating, "Although talking points are lovely, messages are just delightful. I'm going to speak my mind whenever I want, whenever I can." Indeed, he later added, "I am not going to change who I am to meet the needs of the (message) box - to meet the needs of someone else's idea of what politics is."
* "I'm prepared to work with anyone, anywhere, anytime - provided that the basic core-values are the public interest, the needs of the people of British Columbia. If we can agree on that, I'll work with anyone, anywhere. And I know that's the view the people of British Columbia want to hear," Mr. Horgan said, emphasizing a promised bipartisan approach to politics.
* In what was arguably his cleverest line of the evening, Mr. Horgan stated, "The role of the leader of the NDP is to convince the rest of the province they've been New Democrats all their life - they just didn't know it."
* The audience of up to 300 included former deputy premier Elizabeth Cull, former deputy minister John Heaney, former legislator Frank Mitchell, T'Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordon Planes and former finance minister Paul Ramsey.
* Mr. Horgan made specific reference during his speech to an audience member's sign that read: "I'm an older white male but I'm in John's tent." That's a reference to competing leadership candidate Harry Lali's statement last week that he would "welcome back older, white males" into the New Democrats if elected leader. Mr. Horgan then went onto add, "I probably personify older, white men these days and I have never felt persecuted in the NDP and I never will."
* Mr. Horgan made no apologies for scheduling his leadership launch event at 7:00 in the evening at the Isabelle Reader Theatre in Langford - a location and time that isn't convenient for the provincial news media or its cycles. "People have said, 'Why in the world are you announcing your leadership bid at 7:00 in a suburban community in Victoria. Each and everyone of you here tonight is why I'm doing that. Each and every one of you here is why I get up every morning - because I get juiced by doing the good work of the people of this community. And I'm going to get more juiced doing good work for the people of this province," he said.