Austin backs Horgan in NDP leadership bid

Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin is supporting Victoria area MLA John Horgan in his bid to be the next leader of the provincial New Democratic Party.

Austin also backed Horgan when he came third in the 2011 NDP leadership race that saw Adrian Dix become leader.

Dix is vacating that post after the party lost the May 2013 election, requiring another leadership race.

Although Horgan had ruled himself out as a leadership candidate last year, he reversed that decision earlier this year.

Austin, who at first was one of a group that unsuccessfully tried to persuade Skeena NDP MP Nathan Cullen to run, said that once Cullen decided against running, Horgan became his prime choice.

“I met with him and told him that a) we needed a race and that we shouldn’t be a party that simply nominated the next leader,” said Austin last week.

“And I also think he’s the best person to reach people who normally don’t think about politics when there isn’t an election period.”

That ability to communicate, particularly on television, is crucial, said Austin.

“The strength of Christy Clark, her No. 1 strength is her ability to communicate, her ability to say something so that people believe it even though it’s rubbish,” he said.

Positions held by Horgan when he was in the civil service during the last NDP government and his work since becoming a NDP MLA have given him a grasp of issues important to the region, he said.

Horgan, for example, said Austin, helped negotiate the terms of an agreement in northeastern B.C. in which the province pays local governments a share of resource taxation.


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