B.C. NDP leader Horgan willing to take risks

John Horgan said he's going to be reaching out to other parties to find common ground.

John Horgan says he is giving the critics within the B.C. New Democratic Party the freedom under his leadership to take more risks. But is Horgan himself willing to take a few risks with the party’s political future?

Horgan says he is. And when asked to offer up one risk he’s willing to take after 13 months in the job, he says it’s going to be reaching across the aisle to find common ground with other parties — and see if a more collaborative approach resonates with voters come the next provincial election.

“As a party we need to be willing to consult with the public on changes the province is facing,” Horgan said prior to appearing at a fundraising dinner for Saanich North and the Islands MLA Gary Holman on June 4.

“This could mean a change in government, or a change in how political parties themselves operate.”

Horgan said he’s a fan of democratic reform — a passion shared by Holman who is currently leading the portfolio for the B.C. NDP. Horgan added the Saanich North riding itself is an example where better representation in the legislature might reflect voting realities.

“In this riding, the MPs and the MLAs have been all types —NDP, Conservatives, Greens. All are approaching the problems of the day in different ways and in some cases, it could be better if [politicians] would work together.

“This means hands across the aisle.”

Horgan said he’s been in opposition for the last decade and has had plenty of opportunity to be rebuffed by the government in power. This, despite the fact that good percentages of electors voted for some other party and may never see their views represented.

“Cynicism rises when politicians deny there’s a problem,” he said.

This could be seen as a risk in B.C. party politics which has been volatile over the years. But Horgan echoes comments made to the News Review in the past by his MLA here — at the committee level and out of the public spotlight, Liberals and NDPers do work together, come up with solutions and find answers. Leave that environment, and the game goes back to the same old arena, same rules and same animosity. This dual personality of government is something Horgan said he’d like to see change.

Horgan has been leader of the NDP for 13 months now and said he has settled into the role and his party is getting used to his leadership style. He said he believes in the team approach and wants to ensure MLAs and critics within the fold are free to pursue their passions — and free to make mistakes.

“I think you need to trust people. I’ve been successful in allowing people to trust in their own decisions and build their confidence. They can take risks.”

Of course, doing so in a 24-hour news cycle and a society glued to social media, means there always have to be ground rules. Yet, he said, trust must remain for people to be effective in their jobs.