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John Horgan through the eyes of Kootenay-Boundary NDP MLAs

Four current and former New Democrat MLAs from the Kootenays say they have no interest in seeking John Horgan’s job when he steps down as premier in the fall. But all were effusive in their praise in interviews with Vista Radio.

How long have you known John Horgan? How did you meet him?

Katrine Conroy, Kootenay West MLA 2005-present, children and families minister 2017-20, forests minister 2020-present:

I’ve known him since the ’90s. Not only has he been an MLA since 2005, but in the ’90s he worked in Ottawa and for the NDP government [in BC], with my late husband Ed.

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Michelle Mungall, Nelson-Creston MLA, 2008-20, energy minister 2017-20, and co-chair of Horgan’s leadership campaign:

I met John before I was elected MLA. It was 2008, I believe. We as a region were fighting against a private power project on Glacier Creek. At the time John was leading the charge in the legislature against this type of policy and he came out to the Kootenays to help us. We organized an event at the Balfour community hall and John was our keynote speaker. He was so kind to me and easy to work with. He was really enthusiastic about being here.

Brittny Anderson, Nelson-Creston MLA 2020-present:

I met John Horgan once at the BC Tech Summit before I became MLA. Since then he has come to the Kootenays and so I got to spend a few days riding around with him, showing him different things in different parts of the Kootenays, which he was really familiar with.

Roly Russell, Boundary-Similkameen MLA 2020-present:

I got to know him a little bit before [being elected]. We got to know each other better after the Boundary floods. He was one of the people who called me very quickly. We spent a long time on the phone talking about the disaster. From then on, we got to know each other quite a bit better. I would call him a friend certainly.

What was it like working under him?

Mungall: From the very first day I entered the legislature, I remember distinctly John and I having a conversation and he made an effort to make me feel at home, to feel like I was part of the team. I always felt John believed in me as a person and what I could do. He really wanted to help me and therefore help our region be successful in the legislature. I always felt like Horgan had my back. So we became fast friends.

Conroy: He always made sure that as ministers we were in charge of our files. He supported us and made sure we were the ones running our ministries. Other premiers dealing with COVID were front and centre. John didn’t do that. He put Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry front and centre. He believes in making sure the people he has on his team are the ones making decisions and doing the work.

Anderson: It’s funny still to me sometimes to get a text message from the premier about something. For how much power and responsibility he had, he was always available to us. I’m really grateful for his leadership and his friendship.

Russell: I genuinely think he is a remarkable leader and it has to do with not just his skill set but his authenticity. That’s why he is so popular. People can see he isn’t putting on airs. I don’t follow people easily. I like my independence and my autonomy. John has certainly been somebody that I am a passionate follower of.

What’s something most people don’t know about John Horgan? 

Conroy: He was the staff person responsible for enacting the Columbia Basin Trust [in the mid-1990s]. So he was very involved with it and it’s a legacy he leaves to people in our region.

Anderson: He was very excited and enthusiastic when I brought him up to a cannabis farm in Argenta. I think he had a really great time and I don’t think a lot of people know about that visit. It was wonderful to be able to share that part of the Kootenays with the premier. He had actually been to Argenta before that.

Mungall: We are both Star Wars, Star Trek and various other sci-fi series fans. Years ago we founded this NDP Geek caucus. For the longest time it was just him and I as members. Nobody else joined! But now there’s quite a few members and we all keep in touch regularly, especially with Star Trek churning out some new series as well as Star Wars. We’re in contact regularly over one of our favourite hobbies.

Russell: He has developed a love of polishing rocks in recent months. My love is not quite as deep as his, but I do appreciate geology. At one point he said people have to get a hobby. Well he’s got a pretty cool hobby now that he’s pretty passionate about. Especially for somebody’s who’s colour blind.

Are you interested in seeking the NDP leadership?

Mungall: No. I’ve really enjoyed being at home the last almost two years. I have two little kids and am excited to watch them grow.

Conroy: No. I can say that quite clearly. It’s a big job. It takes you away from home a lot. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing now.

Anderson: Right now, I’m really happy to be MLA. I feel so grateful for that. I think we need to focus on the legacy John’s provided for now.

Russell: No is the short answer. I really love the role I have right now. John asked me to serve as parliamentary secretary for rural development and that’s where my passion is, frankly. I appreciate the opportunity to work between ministries, which is I think enormously valuable and important. It fits my passion and skill set. It’s where I want to be. So, no. I don’t get a lot of easy questions, but that’s an easy one!

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