NDP veterans endorse Horgan for leader

Former NDP finance ministers Paul Ramsey and Elizabeth Cull

NDP leadership contender John Horgan has been endorsed by key figures from the party’s decade in government, including former premier Dan Miller.

Miller and former NDP finance ministers Paul Ramsey and Elizabeth Cull joined Horgan for the announcement at the B.C. legislature Friday, as the NDP leadership contest leads up to its membership vote on April 17. Horgan also announced the support of Anne Edwards, a two-term MLA from the Kootenays who was energy minister during Mike Harcourt’s years as B.C. premier.

Horgan was an assistant to Miller when he became energy minister during the late 1990s and then served as chief of staff during Miller’s brief stint as premier after Glen Clark resigned. Horgan is now MLA for Juan de Fuca on southern Vancouver Island and has served as the NDP’s energy critic since 2005.

Miller now serves a director of the B.C. Ferry Authority. He remains an NDP member, and when former leader Carole James stepped down in December, he called Horgan to urge him to run.

“John and I don’t agree on everything,” Miller said. “Quite frankly, he’s much greener than I am.

“We may have disagreements on issues, but in terms of the overall person who’s got the strengths and ability to lead the party, I think he’s the right guy.”

Cull, a former Victoria-area MLA and NDP finance minister, now runs a small chain of garden stores. She said Horgan is the candidate who is best able to reach beyond the party’s traditional base and appeal to small business people.

“I’m a business person and I’m a New Democrat, and a lot of people think that’s a contradiction in terms,” Cull said. “It’s not.”

Ramsey served as Prince George MLA, education and finance minister during the 1990s and has since taught political science at the University of Northern B.C. He said NDP members are focused on two things, uniting the party after the rift that force former leader Carole James out last year, and winning the next election.

“I would ask party members to consider one other thing,” Ramsey said. “Who do you think is the best next premier? Who is going to be able to run a consistent, principled and effective government? And for my money, that’s John Horgan.”

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