Provincial NDP leadership candidate John Horgan stopped in Prince Rupert last week to have lunch with local party members at the Ocean View restaurant.
Horgan is a self-described moderate, which he believes will be an asset for the party if he is the one to face Liberal Party leader Christy Clark in the next election.
“I believe that I am a balanced politician that comes from the middle, more or less. I believe that I am an effective communicator and can spread our message of hope and social democracy to that four or five per cent of the population we need to form a majority government,” said Horgan.
Part of Horgan’s plan to improve the economies of northern communities is for the provincial government to get resource companies to do value-added manufacturing inside the area where they harvest the raw materials instead of shipping it somewhere else.
“Investment has to understand – forest companies in particular – that they have tenure rights to the land. In the past those rights meant that they had to add value to that product here, but they no longer have to do that under the Liberals. I would take steps to change that,” say Horgan.
But Prince Rupert’s primary industry is importing and exporting through its port, not forestry or mining. Horgan says he does believe that Prince Rupert’s economic future is through Asia-Pacific Gateway, but gave no specifics on how he would help develop new foreign markets for the port other than promising to continue the work already being done by the Liberals and “being aggressive” when it came to markets in China, India and Korea.
Horgan says he is steadfastly opposed to the Enbridge oil pipeline would require oil tankers to travel the waters along the north coast. The project’s potential economic benefit, he says, is not worth the risk the tanker traffic poses to the environment.
“The risks of marine disaster are too great to move a product that is not created here to port. This is not an Alberta issue, this is a national issue and British Columbia, in my opinion, should not be facilitating
Horgan says he supports a “fair tax” system for both income and corporate taxes. He says that Liberal’s attempt to create jobs by lowing taxes on corporations has failed. He says that properly funded social programs can attract new companies and jobs.
“The lowest tax jurisdiction in North America is not something we should strive for. Why wouldn’t we strive to be the middle tax jurisdiction in North America? That way companies will have a chance to get a return on their investment and attract skilled workers based on the quality of life we provide. Those are the success stories we want to see, not ‘hey look at me, I’m not paying any taxes’,” he said.