By Dylan Hackett, News Editor
Last week The Other Press spoke with Douglas Horne, MLA for Coquitlam-Mountain, who is running for re-election as a BC Liberal. Below is an excerpt of our discussion.
Could you tell me what your role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier consists of?
The primary part of it is intergovernmental affairs. I handle the dealings with the councilor core, I’m responsible for francophone for British Columbia, and I attend a lot of functions when the premier is not available.
Party affiliations aside, what do you think you have to offer to constituents of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain that Chris Wilson doesn’t?
I have experience. I’ve been elected for four years, but before I was elected I worked in Ottawa for five years. I worked in the speaker’s office in the House of Commons, and I actually worked in the prime minister’s office for a short while. I understand how to get things done—I’ve worked hard over the last four years and [got the] Evergreen Line done. If you don’t understand how that system works, it’s very difficult to get things done that your constituents require.
The province of British Columbia is a $40-billion enterprise. You need to have people capable of running that enterprise. This isn’t something you do in your spare time—this is something I do all the time. We need to have people in place that are capable [and] who understand the finance.
What have you noticed that’s different since the switch in leadership from Gordon Campbell to Christy Clark?
One of the most refreshing things under Christy Clark is that she gives ministers and people around her more input and influence in the decision making process. We are really a team now.
On partisanship and debt.
The vast majority of people are tired of all the partisan bickering. Being able to have better discussions on things is based on taking some of the partisanship out. One of the things I’m most proud of is [when] I chaired the finance committee last fall. It was one of the few times… partisan bickering aside, the government and the opposition agreed. One of the key recommendations we agreed on is that we should balance the budget.
If your father came to you and said, “We’re in our old age now and we would really like to travel around the country in an R.V. so we would like you to co-sign the loan for our R.V.” Would you be willing to do that?
Not a chance— sorry mom and dad.
When governments don’t balance budgets, that’s what I think they’re doing. That’s the difficulty we face. When I was young, BC didn’t have any debt. In the last 40 years, we’ve accumulated all of the debt. While it’s manageable now, like we’re making all our credit payments on time.
There are different forms of debt, there’s managed debt and there’s debt as an investment.
A lot of the debt we’ve accumulated over the last [while] is like mortgage debt: building hospitals, roads, the Pitt River bridge, Golden Ears bridge, things you can see from here! These are important—they stimulate our economy as well.
Not to be overly partisan, but we’re about to go to an election period: when the NDP last formed government, they had six credit downgrades.
What similarities do you see between the NDP of the 1990s and that of today?
They’re exactly the same—Adrian Dix was in charge of the premier’s office last time and now he’s looking to be premier. If it were an entirely different team, then you could say “That’s not the NDP of the 1990s” but it’s the same team. The last time [the NDP] was in charge, British Columbians were so irate that by the end of it, they only elected two of them.
I don’t think any government is perfect nor any group of people are perfect, but everyone tries their best. Frankly, I think we tried our best. The NDP tried their best to be able to manage the economy of British Columbia, but it’s clear who best does the job.