Horgan calls out the youth, saying ‘do not blow this for the rest of us’
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
“If what he wanted to do was upset generations of people and just make himself look silly than he has done the right job.”– Adam Bremner Akins
With the pandemic growing due to the persistence of variants, the BC government announced a new wave of shutdown measures to last for three weeks. The news was met with disappointment, but another action by the government has been met with almost as much attention and a lot more fury.
In the press conference for the event, Premier John Horgan came up to speak and seemingly laid the blame on the shoulders of 20 to 39 year olds (many of whom had just lost their job for three weeks) saying, “The cohort from 20 to 39 are not paying as much attention to these broadcasts and quite frankly, are putting the rest of us in a challenging situation […] Do not blow this for the rest of us, do not blow this for your parents and your neighbours and others who have been working really really hard making significant sacrifices, so we can get good outcomes for everybody.”
The statements made by the premier set off a firestorm of criticism, with everyone from 20 to 39 year olds, pundits, and former NDP candidates criticizing the premier for attacking the age group when there was no concrete factual evidence, and using the statement that is more likely to divide people than bring them together for the common goal of stopping COVID-19.
When asked to apologize, the premier instead doubled down on the comments, saying the next day on a local radio station “I’m not going to do that. I was trying to catch people’s attention. I think I was quite successful if I’m having 19-year-olds asking for apologies—that means they’ve heard what I’ve had to say. I hope they go beyond the wakeup call to assess their personal activities and how they can do better.” He later made tweets that seemed to walk back a bit of what he said (but it is important to consider how common it is to have a social media team lead a political figure’s account).
To talk about the premier’s comments, the Other Press interviewed 18-year-old Green Party candidate for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain in the 2020 BC Provincial Election Adam Bremner-Akins—and he was very critical about what the premier had to say.
As indicated by his tweets, Bremner-Akins did not take kindly to what the premier said: “I was pretty upset with him when he said it.” He feels that he was using the 20 to 39 demographic as scapegoats for his governments failure in properly communicating to the Millennial and Generation Z groups. “If what he wanted to do was upset generations of people and just make himself look silly than he has done the right job.”
Bremner-Akins thought it was harsh for Horgan to make these comments in the same press conference where he also announced that dine-in restaurants was no longer allowed, leaving those workers (mostly in the 20 to 39 demographic who occupy server positions) out of a job. “Who is going to be affected by these cuts? It’s going to be young people,” Akins said.
Part of the premier’s statement expressed his frustration that 20-to-39-year olds are not watching the daily press briefings. Bremner-Akins says that people in the age group not watching the briefings is not the fault of them, but of the premier for not broadcasting those messages on platforms that 20-to-39-year olds are on. “It sort of seemed like he was blaming us for his inability to figure out how to reach us.”
In previous interviews with Bremner-Akins and Sonia Furstenau, it was brought up that one of the problems with BC politics right now is lack of representation of young people in the legislature. In the wake of this firestorm, the Other Press asked Bremner-Akins if Horgan’s comments may have been made because there was no one in Horgan’s inner circle from the 20 to 39 age group to tell him that this may not have be a wise thing to say. Bremner-Akins agreed, saying “if there were young people in his cabinet that never would have happened.”
The question is whether Horgan will apologise for what he said. Considering he doubled down on it the next day, that seems unlikely. “I don’t understand why Horgan is so hesitant to apologise. People make mistakes, and you apologise when you make mistakes, and you move on. You learn from them.”