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Darcy supports Horgan in NDP leadership race

New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy has thrown her support behind John Horgan in the NDP leadership race. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader
New Westminster MLA Judy Darcy has thrown her support behind John Horgan in the NDP leadership race.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

Judy Darcy didn't take long to jump on the John Horgan bandwagon.

The New Westminster MLA declared her support for Horgan Wednesday. That was two days after he announced his candidacy to replace Adrian Dix as provincial New Democratic Party leader.

Darcy said she didn't know Horgan that well before her election last May. That changed quickly. He was the party's house leader and she was its health critic when the legislature went into session last July. Horgan's office is a few doors down from Darcy's and she pops in several times a day for advice.

"I've gotten to see his leadership skills up close and personal. He's been a tremendous house leader. We've been an effective, positive opposition with him as a house leader," said Darcy. "He's a fabulous communicator. He has the ability to talk to people from all areas, from all walks of life and from across all parts of British Columbia."

Darcy supported Adrian Dix in the 2011 NDP leadership race. Dix beat out Mike Farnworth and Horgan, but resigned last September after failing to lead the New Democrats to victory in the May 2013 provincial election.

Political pundits believe Dix's downfall came when he declared the party opposed Kinder Morgan's proposal to twin its pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.

"It's a different time. He had a very strong message about tackling inequality in the province. That was an important message, and it continues to be," said Darcy.

Darcy said Horgan knows all the issues. He is strong on environmental protection, but also realizes the need for a strong economy that is resource based.

"He understands both sides of the equation. It's not a matter of choosing one or another, it's about having both," she said. "We can understand it's a resource economy and that we need to diversify the economy. The Liberals are putting all their eggs in one basket with LNG (liquefied natural gas).

"We have to also make sure we develop tourism, agriculture, small business, film, the IT sector."

She added the NDP isn't opposed to LNG, but the environment must also be protected. Darcy also believes the benefits Clark expects B.C. to gain from LNG won't arrive for several years.

Darcy said Horgan is up to speed on issues important to New Westminster such as transportation, seniors care and health.

"He has the ability to lead the party to victory in 2017."

Horgan declared in the fall he would not be a candidate. But almost all of the speculated candidates bowing out he was convinced to change his mind.

"I thought the party needed him, and British Columbia needed him. It took a lot of persuading by a lot of people including myself," said Darcy.

Former NDP leader Carole James is one of Horgan's supporters. Darcy applauded Horgan's choice of two young MLAs, David Eby and Michelle Mongeau, to run his campaign.

"They have the ability to reach out to young people. They need to be engaged in politics and be inspired to be involved in the process.

Darcy was thrilled when Horgan told her he'd chosen New Westminster for his initial Metro Vancouver rally. It will be held at the Inn at the Quay on Sunday starting at 1:30 p.m.

So far Farnworth and Horgan are the only two declared candidates for the Sept. 28 vote.

Horgan also received support from New Westminster board of education vice-chair Michael Ewen.

"Both candidates are bright and intelligent, but with John Horgan I think we have someone with a better grasp of the financial issues and the balances we need to have. Clearly we need to have jobs, and clearly we need to have the gas and oil industry and they need to be fully regulated with checks and balances to make sure the jobs are there and the environment safeguards are there," said Ewen.

He added such an approach would move the economy forward so education and health care could receive proper funding.

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