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John Horgan takes the reins of BC NDP with inauguration in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – At his inauguration Sunday afternoon, newly acclaimed leader John Horgan told an excited crowd he is now leading a BC New Democrat Party that is unified in their plan for the province.

That plan, according to Horgan, includes supporting the liquefied natural gas industry and resource development. “I’m prepared to go anywhere and talk to anyone at any time about the importance of economic growth within the context of a balanced approach to our environment and ensuring our First Nations are dealt in. It’s imperative, I will not lose sight of that from this day forward.”

Former party leader Adrian Dix was criticized for turning his back on the resource industry during his campaign leading up to the May 2013 Provincial Election, in which the NDP lost seats.

But Horgan says rumors of the party’s demise have been exaggerated. 720 thousand people voted for the NDP in that election according to Horgan. “We need another fifteen thousand votes to make it a nice tidy win. Let’s double that, triple that, and let’s make sure that in 2017 people come to the ballot box and vote for us with confidence that the values they bring to the box are going to be in the government that they elect.”

The crowd was excited as Horgan pledged his supporters there’s just three years to gain those votes. However, supporters in the crowd did not include former leader Adrian Dix, who was notably absent at the inauguration. Horgan explained during his speech Dix is travelling with his wife, Renee.

Meanwhile, critics are left wondering how the NDP are going to create jobs in the resource and liquefied natural gas industries while not alienating supporters with a more environmental focus. The issue was one of the reasons former NDP Premier and party supporter Mike Harcourt chose not to renew his membership with the party, and publicly blasted their current platform.

But Vancouver-Point Grey MLA, David Eby, who was one of the chairs of Horgan’s campaign, says Horgan has been very clear the party is committed to meeting legislative targets for carbon emissions. “We think there are huge opportunities and John has spoken before around retrofits for people’s homes to reduce energy consumption, and to find those reductions in carbon emissions in people’s day to day lives and support people in doing that.” Eby adds he’s seen colleagues concerned about tanker traffic and the proposed Enbridge pipeline project as well as Northern MLAs backing resource extraction get behind Horgan as leader.

Horgan was escorted out the back of the inauguration and refused to take questions from media. Eby says it was a big day for the party and Horgan, who was at the event to talk to NDP members.

Horgan was acclaimed leader Thursday after the only other candidate, Mike Farnworth, dropped out of the race and no other contenders came forward before the May 1st deadline, cancelling the leadership convention planned for September.