BC NDP leadership candidate John Horgan listens to former Chilliwack NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic at a party luncheon held in Chilliwack Tuesday.

BC NDP leadership candidate John Horgan listens to former Chilliwack NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic at a party luncheon held in Chilliwack Tuesday.

NDP Horgan talks tough about Liberal record during Chilliwack visit

Soon-to-be acclaimed party leader touring areas held by BC Liberals

It may be a dream and it may be a few years off, but that didn’t stop the provincial NDP from talking victory in the Fraser Valley during BC NDP leadership candidate John Horgan’s visit to Chilliwack Tuesday.

Horgan was at Coffee Plus for a luncheon alongside 2013 Chilliwack NDP candidate Patti MacAhonic, former Chilliwack-Hope NDP MLA Gwen O’Mahony and other local party leaders and members.

“New Democrats like Gwen and Patti have shown the B.C. Liberals can’t take this region for granted,” Horgan said in a statement. “My leadership will support strong leaders like them to give Fraser Valley voters a real option in 2017 for a government that will make life more affordable here.”

Horgan became the sole candidate for the NDP leadership to replace Adrian Dix after Mike Farnworth bowed out of the race on April 8.

Asked what the biggest mistake was in the last election the NDP lost so handily, Horgan said “not holding the government accountable for their record.”

Dix was blamed by many in the 2013 election for refusing to run negative ads against the BC Liberals, choosing instead to put forth a positive message to voters.

Horgan said he is “absolutely supportive of staying positive” and telling the story of the party’s plans, but he added that a light should have focused on the BC Liberal record.

“We didn’t do the ‘what-they-ve-been-doing-to-you’ part at all and the public, in many parts of the province, decided to stay with the government they knew rather than the government that they didn’t know.”

Horgan said that after 12 years in power there is “disarray” in every possible sector under the BC Liberals.

“The public affairs bureau . . . bombard you daily with news of things that may come to pass in the future rather than giving you the information about what is actually happening: child poverty rates, the inequality that is growing in every community, the lack of silviculture, a forestry sector that is in steep, steep decline as we continue to export more and more raw logs,” he said. “Those are the realities of the economy today. That’s not the reality that the Liberals portray. In the last campaign we didn’t tell that story effectively, and we lost.”

Both O’Mahony and MacAhonic spoke in glowing terms of Horgan and his role as leader of the party.

“He’s a true down-to-earth leader,” O’Mahony said.

“John’s calibre of character is partly what drew me to run for the NDP, so I’m delighted he is seeking the leadership,” added MacAhonic.

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