IN THE LEDGE – ‘Do your level best, son, and everyone will be fine’

(Image: Govt of BC)

Former premier John Horgan announced yesterday (Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023) he will step down in March as MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. He spoke about his career for more than half an hour in the Legislature. Here are some excerpts from his remarks as well as reaction.

J. Horgan: …When I look at how we all responded to floods, to fires, to pandemic, to heat domes, to the opioid crisis, these are unimaginable horrors for individuals and families, but yet we’ve all hung together. We disagreed on how fast or how slow or how much or when, but we have never lost sight of working together to find solutions to these vexing problems.

Climate change is not an ideological question. It is a question for every single human being on the planet. And if you haven’t been paying attention, there are eight billion of them now — eight billion souls spinning around not knowing where to go next, not knowing how fast to go. We will have those debates. We will be certain in our cause, but there is always uncertainty in everything that we do.

Every day, we get up and we make choices. Sometimes we make good choices. Sometimes we make bad choices. My mom, Alice, taught me, at a very early age, that the best you can do is all you can do. “Do your level best, son, and everyone will be fine.”

I have tried, over 18 years in this place as an MLA, 30 years working here, 63 years drawing breath, to try and make it better every day for the people around me. I want to thank you all for allowing me to say, today, how important that has been for me, for my family and for my community. I loved every minute of it, and I can’t say any more than that inside the House, but thanks for everything, all of you.

I know there’s people I didn’t mention. I’ve got all these notes. I worked so hard on them meticulously. I’m fastidious for staying to paper, the Health Minister knows this. We’ve been friends since 1986, and there’s not a word that’s passed my lips that I haven’t written down and passed on to someone else.

With that, I will just tantalize you with the water story. It’s really funny, but I’m not going to tell it. They were taking bets; now they’re shaking their heads: “Do not do the water story.” Okay. Thanks, everybody. If you want the water story, it’ll probably be on YouTube sometime in the future.

Hon. D. Eby: I seek leave to respond to the member from Langford’s statement.

Leave granted.

Hon. D. Eby: How do we, in this House and British Columbians, measure the impact that John has had on this province. You know, if people have been fortunate enough to meet him, they know how effortlessly loveable John is. That is how he earned the name Premier dad. You can see the massive impact he has had on the lives of British Columbians through his signature policies in his time in this place.

Child care: a brand new social program — the first in a generation for British Columbians — changing the lives of families and kids across the province, letting parents save a bit of money too and also know that their kids are in a safe place when they’re at work. Getting the big money out of politics. Changing how politics is done in this province. Making sure that the voices of people speak louder than the voices of money. And, of course, as he mentioned, navigating the pandemic….

Now, John’s hero is, as he mentioned, Dave Barrett, whose slogan was: “Here for a good time, not a long time.” John’s motto was a little bit different: “Here for a globally unprecedented, all-hands-on-deck, historic leadership moment to head off a stable majority government time.” It’s not as catchy. But it sure meant a lot to me.

When we look at the leadership that John showed — for example, on climate sustainability in British Columbia through the CleanBC plan, a North America leading climate plan, which is also, critically, an economic plan for our province….

The biggest middle-class tax cut in the province’s history — getting rid of MSP. Changing lives of fam drive over the bridge every day by getting tolls off the bridges, reducing costs for families. And the profound change of the passing of the U.N. declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples into domestic law….

Here in B.C., I think every member in this place will remember that day for the rest of their lives. It has changed our province forever for the better.

In 2017, of course, John entered into that historic agreement with Andrew Weaver and the B.C. Green Party that brought stability to B.C. politics and won a massive majority in 2020. He proved his theory, which he mentioned again, that B.C.’s full of New Democrats. They just don’t know it yet….

In all seriousness, John, you’ve been our coach. You’ve been our captain — supportive, encouraging, direct and only sometimes unpredictable. But above everything else, I want to say thank you so much. Thank you to Ellie. Thank you to your family for giving John to the people of British Columbia. I know the sacrifice that families make. I’m so grateful that you shared this man with us.

I am so humbled by the shoes that I have to fill. I know that every member of our caucus has just endless love and respect for you and the work that you’ve done in this place over your career. I’ll do my best to follow your lead. I know I’m standing on your shoulders, and you make it look easy. I’ll do my best to put people first the way that you always did. Thank you, John.

T. Stone: I, too, seek leave to respond to the remarks from the member for Langford–Juan de Fuca.

Leave granted.

T. Stone: It gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise today on behalf of the Leader of the Official Opposition and, indeed, the entire B.C. Liberal opposition as we all, in this House, come together to join in recognizing the 36th Premier of British Columbia. He’s a man who has had a long, long presence in this building, first as a staffer, as he pointed out, to the NDP government of the 1990s. He may have been up on the third floor. I was toiling away in the basement in the 1990s but eventually made my way back up.

He served as the MLA for Malahat–Juan de Fuca, elected in 2005, and really, truly has become a fixture in this place.

Certainly, as we just heard, it wasn’t always easy — it never is for any of us in this place — but I think that the unique perspective that the former Premier, the member, John, mentioned in his remarks, about having served on both sides of this place, is what really, truly resonates: that it is so important that both sides do the job that they were sent here to do and that it’s not easy.

I am certain that we all know which side he has enjoyed the most over those years, but what I think is also fair to say is that it was unquestionable, his commitment to the fact that both sides needed to be functioning well for this place to really work. I remember him often saying that government has a job to do, and the opposition has a job to do.

Certainly, here in the chamber, he gave it as good as he took it, and we might all quibble on which days were better than others, but I know that all of us, in the opposition in recent years, have enjoyed our engagements with him in this chamber — or, perhaps, better described as jousting at times….

I’ve only known him for about ten years, in the time that we’ve served since I was first elected in 2013. Again, we’ve very rarely, maybe, agreed on the specific policies — and, as he pointed out, in retrospect, you look back on it and, well, it was more about the timing, the amount or whatnot — but the underlying values and principles, you’d generally agree with. I’ve certainly never doubted that he cared about his constituents in his community and this province….

Caring for one’s province, community and constituents — that’s the most important part of public service, and it’s why we all do what we do….

Please know that everyone here today, indeed all British Columbians, continue to have you in their thoughts. We wish nothing but great health for you and your family. Much happiness with Ellie and your boys in the months and the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I hope you’ll permit me again, breaking the rules a few more times.
John from Langford, all British Columbians thank you for your love of our province, your commitment to serving its people best. Thank you for always doing your level best.

Source: BC Hansard.

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on IN THE LEDGE – ‘Do your level best, son, and everyone will be fine’

  1. R Marcus Lowe // February 11, 2023 at 7:57 PM // Reply

    Something strange about Langford: so many good people raised from there…

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