BY BILL PHILLIPS
John Horgan opened his comments in Prince George Thursday with a remembrance.
“I want to acknowledge that we’re just past the fifth anniversary of the devastating explosion at Lakeland and we’re also a day ahead of the Day of Mourning,” he told about 100 supporters gathered at Nancy O’s Restaurant. “I want to say to Glenn Roche’s family and Alan Little’s family, our thoughts are with you.”
From there he launched into an attack on Liberal leader Christy Clark and her handling of the softwood lumber issue.
“When you’re in the Interior of British Columbia, you can’t not think about softwood lumber,” he said. “For two-and-a-half years we had a government that asleep at the switch, at least that’s what I thought.”
He referred to former U.S. trade representative Jim Froman who told the CBC’s Power and Politics yesterday that Canada was close to a softwood lumber deal with the U.S. but some on the Canadian side felt a better deal could be secured with incoming U.S. president Donald Trump because he’s a “builder.”
“I’m curious what person on the Canadian side said that because in February Ms. Clark said ‘Donald Trump’s a builder,’ and again in April,” said Horgan. “How’s that working out for us here in the Interior? How’s that working out for forest workers right across British Columbia? Not so good.”
He criticized Clark for not travelling to Washington, D.C., as have Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
“On May 10, my first priority is to sit down with the prime minister and say ‘softwood lumber is foundational to British Columbia, foundational to Prince George,” he said. “I will not rest until we get a deal that’s in the interest of this province.”
Horgan was also critical of raw log exports, which have increase substantially over the past few years.
“Every time a lot leaves British Columbia, a job goes with it,” he said. “We’re going to restrict raw log exports and make sure we’re creating more opportunities here in British Columbia.”
Horgan was quick to dismiss the Liberals’ criticism that it took him until halfway through the campaign to visit Prince George. Clark mentioned it during her stop here last week and it was reiterated by Prince George-Valemount Liberal candidate Shirley Bond Thursday morning.
“John Horgan spent the first 15 days ignoring all British Columbians north of 50,” said Bond. “While Christy Clark has been travelling the entire province, John Horgan is only coming here after being pushed into it by media.”
Horgan called the debate over who campaigned here first “middle school stuff,” and said he has been to Prince George as opposition leader many times.
“Election campaigns are 28 days and Christy Clark has about $20 billion dollars more than I do to run a campaign and is well-financed by corporate interests and the well-connected,” he said. “I got to Prince George today and I’m going to be in every other community up and down the Coast and into the Interior.”
Fresh off the leaders’ debate Wednesday night, Horgan was critical that most of the debate was about Lower Mainland issues.
“What’s been happening right across British Columbia, particularly in rural B.C., is an erosion of services,” he said, adding that education is one of those services that has suffered.
Horgan was joined by Prince George-Mackenzie candidate Bobby Deepak, Prince George-Valemount candidate Natalie Fletcher, Nechako Lakes candidate Anne Marie Sam, and Cariboo North candidate Scott Elliott. Horgan’s tour was to take him to Quesnel and Williams Lake Thursday before heading back to Vancouver.
British Columbians go to the polls May 9.