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Horgan throws hat in ring for B.C. NDP leadership

NDP MLA John Horgan is crediting his constituents for changing his mind and convincing him to seek leadership of the provincial party.

His announcement, made Monday in his Juan de Fuca constituency, is an about-turn from the MLA's Oct. 2013 decision not to run. He said at the time he wanted to "get out of the way of our younger members."

"I've been approached consistently, almost daily, to re-consider my decision," Horgan told the Gazette before his announcement. "I'm seeing a broad consensus emerging that what we need is strong leadership to take on the Liberals in 2017, and I believe, and many, many others believe, that I fit that bill."

His intention to set the stage for younger politicians has not been fruitful, he said.

"I felt that if I was out of the picture that would give them more comfort. The young people that I had hoped to step up are encouraging me to step up."

A focus on the environment and industrial development will be the keystone of Horgan's campaign. He describes himself as a longtime NDP diehard who believes in the importance of community, public services and ensuring access for all to the "prosperity of B.C."

"I believe I can take those values and encourage people to not just vote for the NDP, but to be excited about voting for the NDP," he said.

Reflecting on the NDP's surprising defeat in the 2013 election, Horgan said the party needs to listen to voters and make sure it is relevant to British Columbians.

He was joined at the announcement by former party leader Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James, along with Maurine Karagianis, MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads, and Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routly.

Horgan plans to unveil more NDP MLAs as members of his team over the coming week.

He finished third in the 2011 leadership race behind Mike Farnworth and winner Adrian Dix. So far, Farnworth is the only other party member to have announced his run for the leadership in 2014. A leader will be picked on Sept. 28.

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com

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