This week, I was proud to become the new leader of B.C.’s New Democrats.
Our province is rich in natural resources, unparalleled in its beauty, and unrivalled in the strength and diversity of its people.
But, with all our advantages, the B.C. Liberal government is still making life in this province harder. Their increases to MSP fees, hydro rates and ferry fares are making life unaffordable for hard-working families, and their program cuts are cutting families off from the services they need to thrive.
I know we can do better. I know we can make our great province a better place for all British Columbians. And it’s vital to me that we do.
This is where I grew up. And it’s where I have raised two sons with my wife of 30 years, Ellie.
My father came here from Ireland in search of a better life. And after he passed away when I was a toddler, my mother raised four kids with the help of neighbours and community. I love this province because we help each other when times are tough.
We also expect our government to help our families succeed. Public services like education, recreation centres and libraries gave me hope and opportunity when I was young.
So while the BC Liberals pile on new fees and cut public services, I understand that B.C. families need and deserve better from their government.
For 13 years, the BC Liberals have broken their promise to put families first. For this government, families always come last.
They put families last when they chose to increase hydro rates by 28 per cent. And they put families last when they provoked a dispute with B.C. teachers, without a thought for the kids who would be locked out of their classrooms.
They are putting families last every day when they claw back child support payments from single moms and their kids who are already struggling to afford the basics.
I’m proud to lead a strong team of New Democrats because it’s New Democrats who believe that all families should have the opportunity to succeed.
We also believe in a strong and robust economy, with good jobs. With a balanced approach, we can produce good jobs and create wealth for generations to come.
A balanced approach means encouraging growth throughout the economy. The BC Liberals are putting all their eggs in the LNG basket, forgetting about other sectors, like small business.
A balanced approach also means benefiting from our natural resources, while protecting our land, air and water.
Let me tell you what I mean.
One of my proudest achievements when I worked for Premier Mike Harcourt was leading the creation of the Columbia Basin Trust.
To this day, the Trust returns the benefits of resource development to communities in the Kootenays. It’s created good jobs, and funded community arts and culture projects, environmental programs and fish enhancement, while respecting the region’s First Nations.
That’s the kind of resource development I want.
Under my leadership, you can expect this balanced approach.
The BC Liberals are putting families last, making life less affordable and services less accessible. They have starved health care and handed seniors’ care over to cut-rate corporations. And they have failed to stand up for our natural environment.
I know we can do better. And we must do better, because everyone in our province — every senior, every child, every family — deserves to have opportunity and hope.
My team of New Democrats and I will work with you to build a stronger, better, more prosperous B.C.
Leader, B.C. New Democrats