This is part 1/3 of a series on the candidates for the BC election.
John Joseph Horgan was born on August 7th, 1959 in the Saanich district of Victoria. His father passed away before he was two years old, leaving his mother to care for him and his three siblings. They survived on the generosity of friends and family, despite the fact that his mom worked a unionized job. By the start of grade 9 he was a “train wreck”. He was cutting classes and smoking everyday. But a compassionate basketball coach showed him that he could do better. He graduated as student council president with scholarly ambitions. After working a plethora of jobs to pay for his education including working at a pulp mill in Ocean Falls, he went on to earn a bachelor of arts from Trent University, where he met his wife Ellie. The couple dated throughout university and got married just after they graduated. John waited tables at the Keg until he could afford to finish his masters degree in Sydney. He returned to Canada with his wife to begin his career in politics.
The original plan was to work at a museum in Ottawa, however he ended up in the mailroom of Jim Manly, the MP of Cowichan-Malahat. Eventually Horgan was an aide for the Victoria-MP before he returned to work in BC’s NDP party in the nineties. The economic policies of the prime ministers John served under were very controversial and when the NDPs lost to the Liberals, he left the government.
Fast forward to 2004, John Horgan is sitting in his living room, yelling about “those god*#*^ Liberals” again. His friend challenges him to do something about it, prompting him to run for NDP MLA in the riding of Malahat-Juan de Fuca, an region that would reflect him for the twelfth year in the 2017 election.
Under the official opposition of Carole James, he served first as education minister of the shadow cabinet, but he mainly worked as minister of energy, holding large energy corporations accountable and fighting to lower BC’s gas prices. Following Carole James’ resignation as NDP leader in 2011, he sought the nomination for party leader. It was a tight race between Adrian Dix, Mike Farnworth and himself, but eventually he lost to Dix and returned to his post as minister of energy. However, in an unprecedented turn of events, Dix resigned as party leader two years later. Originally Horgan did not plan to run, with intentions of leaving the race open to the younger MLA’s. But when Farnworth announced his campaign, he reconsidered. This time he won – albeit by default- but he was now set to lead the NDP into the 2017 election.
As the election progressed, John Horgan was attacked by the liberal leaders for being too temperamental to lead, earning nicknames like “Hulk Horgan” after a particularly tense debate with Christy Clark. However this didn’t matter to most voters, the NDP’s campaign promises appealed enough constitutes -particularly in the lower mainland- to earn them 41 seats in the house.
Christy Clark ended the night with 43 seats, leaving it up to the Greens to decide who stays in power. The NDP’s campaign promised to eliminate bridge tolls, improve housing affordability, create $10-a-day daycare and boost school funding to remove portables. The Greens liked all of those ideas, and when they agreed to support electoral reform, and ban corporate and union donations to political parties, signed an agreement to form a minority government.
Over their first four years in power, the NDP government has accomplished or made progress on 79% of their campaign promises. Big promises that were completed include raising disability and welfare rates, putting in a speculation tax and eliminating tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges. They were also praised for their response to Covid-19, making Horgan the most approved premier in the history of BC.
But as we know on September 21st, John Horgan decided to call an election in the midst of a pandemic. He says “he struggled mightily” with the decision, something his opponents will be sure to use against him. Could this be the end of his political career? That’s up to you to decide if you go out and vote!