NDP leader meets the ethnic press in Surrey – By Ray Hudson

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John Horgan, Leader, B.C. New Democrats

Eight months to Provincial Election

John Horgan, Leader, B.C. New Democrats
John Horgan, Leader, B.C. New Democrats

Surrey: You know the election season has begun by the veritable blizzard of government funding announcements. For sure they are all things that are critical for the population from new schools and school expansions in Surrey, to another ambulance in Maple Ridge and on and on. Add to that a visit to the local ethnic media by John Horgan, Leader New Democratic Opposition, and you know the game is on.

In an exclusive interview for Asian Journal TV this week, the Opposition Leader covered a number of topics of concern to the people of the South Fraser before meeting with the region’s ethnic media over lunch.

Horgan’s main message was about differentiation between the NDP and the Liberals.

“Budgets are about choices you make as a government to meet the needs of your community. According to the Liberal Government, Liquid Natural Gas was going to make us debt-free, create 100 thousand jobs. As the Leader, where am I going to find the money to fix the problems? The same place the Liberals do, but the choices that I make are going to be drastically different.”

“I’m a big sports fan, but the Liberals chose to spend a half-billion dollars to put a roof on BC Place stadium. They could have addressed the challenge of 7,000 kids in portable classrooms in Surrey. I differentiate myself by focusing on people. Their focus in large measure has been on the wealthy and the well connected.”

Other points Horgan spoke on:

Resources vrs Environment: “I can speak comfortably about energy and resource development and at the same time talk about how we can protect and manage our environment in the best interest of future generations.”
Economy: “I can comfortably go into a lunch room or a board room and talk about the economy and I will do that as we lead up to the election.”
Real Estate: “I would use the income tax act and the assessment records to determine the source of the speculative investment. Liberals chose to demonize people, foreign nationals. We chose to focus on the speculators, on the cash. We need to stop the money laundering and stop the speculative investments.”
Crown Corporations: “I think the dividends that BC Hydro and ICBC have been paying to the government is the biggest scandal that’s gone unreported. Hydro is riddled with debt, more electricity than they can sell, and building site C to create more electricity for a market that’s already saturated. The Liberals are using these crowns as tools for their political advancement rather than tools for our economic prosperity and I think that needs to change.”
Health Outcomes: “Pilot projects in the interior and the north are reducing costs and the number of visits to doctors by increasing the number of visits to dieticians, therapists, and nurse practitioners. These pilot projects need to be expanded to the lower mainland and significantly reduce costs.” Horgan said we need to reduce waitlists by increasing the investment in operating rooms, and increasing procedure hours from 8 hours to 12 or 16 hours, to get more procedures done. It will be cost effective with better health outcomes.
Justice System delays: Liberals have starved the system; not enough clerks or sheriffs, not enough services for legal aid and court rooms operating on nine to five regime.
Service to newcomers: Two critical issues – recognition of overseas credentials the liberals have had 15 years to fix it, and the other one is better support for English language training.
Diversity in Government: Attract candidates to the NDP who reflect the community. I want our legislature, government and opposition to look like our communities, so newcomers see themselves reflected in their government institutions. Our diversity separates us from other parts of North America in that we can speak to and trade with countries in every corner of the globe.

As the song says, We’ve Only Just Begun (the election run up) and the Asian Journal will report all the angles and personalities on the long path to BC’s election day. Check out the full interview with John Horgan at www.asianjournal.ca