HASH(0xa9fc78)

B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan bets that people-focused campaign will pay off

NDP's John Horgan at home in a crowd

VANCOUVER — On a recent day on the campaign trail in British Columbia, New Democrat Leader John Horgan chatted with seniors and university students inside a locally owned diner in Kamloops, met laid-off workers outside a shuttered mill in Merritt and listened to an elderly couple’s story of skyrocketing hydro bills in Hope.

He also squeezed in a game of pool with a journalist and capped off the day with a screening of the latest “Star Trek” movie, which he said he’s seen multiple times and still can’t understand why he was rejected as an extra. (It’s a true story. The 57-year-old is a sci-fi aficionado but was told he was too old for a part.)

Throughout it all, Horgan looked relaxed and confident.

The NDP campaign has allowed Horgan to meet a number of people before Tuesday’s election, holding roundtable chats in supporters’ homes about the challenges of finding a family doctor or the need to renovate rundown sports facilities. The events are staged but unscripted, aiming to drive home the message that Horgan works for regular people.

Horgan says he feels at home in a crowd.

“That’s who I am,” said Horgan, who was raised by a single mom in a working-class family after his father died of a brain aneurysm when he was 18 months old.

“Those are my roots. That’s what I came from. I just feel comfortable talking to people. I believe that government, and the reason I got involved in the first place, is to make life better for people and you can’t do that if you don’t engage with them.”

The NDP has tried to capitalize on a moment in the campaign when a woman who identified herself as Linda told Liberal Leader Christy Clark at a market in North Vancouver why she would never vote for her. Video posted online shows Clark cutting her off and saying, “You don’t have to — that’s why we live in a democracy,” before walking away.

The interaction inspired its own hashtag #IamLinda, which critics used to share their reasons for opposing Clark.

“That symbolizes, I believe, for many British Columbians, the sense that the government’s not working for them,” said Horgan, who has represented his Victoria-area riding since 2005 and was acclaimed party leader three years ago. 

“I am able to wade into a lunchroom or a boardroom or a kitchen, or just walk down the street, and I’m quite happy to disagree with people and have people disagree with me.”

The NDP has focused largely on the seat-rich Lower Mainland, home to a number of battleground ridings. The NDP leader said he’s pleased with how the campaign has gone.

In one of the debates, Clark touched Horgan on the arm and told him to calm down, causing him to coolly ask her not to touch him again.

Horgan describes himself as a happy-go-lucky guy who is quick to call out injustice — a far cry from the “Hulk Horgan” nickname the Liberals have bestowed upon him in an attempt to focus attention on his temperament.

“I’m angry when children die in care. So are you. Everyone is. If you’re not passionate about life and if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, then you’re in the wrong profession.”

— Follow @ellekane on Twitter.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Senior curling provincials setting up for exciting finish

Standings tight as Senior curling teams push for provincial playoffs

Rescued snowmobilers ill-prepared for emergency, Castlegar RCMP say

Two men rescued Wednesday night were not ready for overnight in back country

Police share more details on occupants and suspicious van in Fruitvale

Vehicle in question offered young girl a ride to school on Feb. 19

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Parity prevails at BC Senior Curling championship

Teams go toe-to-toe in second Draw at the BC Senior Curling Championship

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Man wanted for sex trafficking, confinement may be heading to B.C.

Kevin Myrthil, 26, is also accused of assault on a 19-year-old woman at an Edmonton hotel

Most Read