Horgan defends NDP's work on old growth logging while reflecting on time as premier of B.C.
In June, the 63-year-old premier announced his decision to retire
As he prepares to leave, B.C. Premier John Horgan says the transition is well underway, and he's confident the next leader — David Eby — will continue the work on ongoing issues like housing, affordability and climate change.
In 2017, the New Democratic Party (NDP) reached a historic deal with the B.C. Greens to edge out the B.C. Liberals and form government.
The two-term NDP premier announced his retirement in June, saying he had every intention of running for another term but decided he couldn't after undergoing "rigorous" treatment for throat cancer.
During an interview with the CBC on Tuesday, Horgan said although he is proud of his accomplishments, he admits he made a mistake trying to rebuild Victoria's Royal B.C. Museum (RBCM), at a time when British Columbians were talking and thinking of other concerns like health care for their families.
Even though plans for the museum were suspended, he says it sparked important conversations about its future.
Horgan also grew heated when reflecting on criticism his government has received about its old-growth logging policies.
He spoke to Gregor Craigie, the host of the CBC's On The Island, on Tuesday.
The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.
How are you feeling about your time in leadership?
With all of the events that we've experienced over the past half-decade, I'm pretty satisfied that my team and I and British Columbians, quite frankly, rose to the test, whether it be fires and floods, pandemic, heat domes and even individual and collective challenges with health. I'm pretty satisfied that we did what we could, and I'm very, very ready to pass the baton to David Eby.
Is there anything you wish you could have done more fully or you could have done better?
I'm sure that your listeners are saying right now, Royal B.C. Museum, and I'd agree with that.
I love the museum. I assumed that everyone was aware of the seismic challenges, the fact that our archival materials were below sea level at the current location, and when we made the announcement, I was quite frankly shocked that mostly Victorians were saying, "What are you talking about?"
So that was on me.
What are you most proud of as premier?
So many things. We were a very active government, as you know, eliminating medical services premiums ... fixing the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), ... and then, of course, the most important piece of legislation would have been the Declaration Act to continue the journey of reconciliation with First Nations in British Columbia.
What about housing affordability?
We've spent billions of dollars on housing initiatives, and it's just made a dent in the challenge. One hundred thousand people came to British Columbia last year from around the country and around the world, and we're trying desperately to keep pace with that.
I'm confident that more supply is the answer and ... it is going to be a concerted effort by all orders of government. We live on an island, and at some point, you run into the water and in the Lower Mainland, you run into the mountains. We have a limited amount of land to build on, and that pushes prices up as well.
What about homelessness? Do you think it'll get better anytime soon?
The pandemic ... did exacerbate the challenges of homelessness and mental health and addictions. People were in isolation rather than in groups, so protecting each other from toxic drug supply was a challenge.
We need more complex care.
How far do you think you've come toward meeting your environmental commitments that you put to voters, and how much was left undone in your time as premier?
There's no conclusion in public policy, there's just ongoing progress.
Those who have expectations that somehow wave a magic wand and British Columbia will be our salvation are completely missing the thread here. We need multilateral international efforts, and I certainly will continue, if I can, to be promoting those initiatives.
But on the other hand, the NDP pledged to stop all old growth logging. So what do you say to people who say you should have done more?
Are they leaders, or are they random Indigenous voices?
I've spent the past five years engaging on a regular basis with Indigenous leaders across British Columbia, and this notion that there's some sort of homogeneous group of Indigenous peoples, it's just a fallacy.
We all have to work together. We all have to listen to each other, walk a mile in each other's shoes, and I just reject those who declare that we've made no progress.
That's nonsense. It's demonstrably false. I've done the best I could.
What are your next few days looking like?
We're working through the transition now. There's mountains of briefing materials for incoming Premier Eby, and I'm side by side with him. I have great confidence in him. I'm here to help him every step of the way.
With files from On The Island
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