Opinion Column

Is B.C. NDP leader John Horgan really Public Enemy No. 1? Only to big business right-wingers

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

John Horgan. (Carmine Marinelli/Vancouver 24hours File Photo)

John Horgan. (Carmine Marinelli/Vancouver 24hours File Photo)

“Don't believe the hype/Don't believe the hype – it’s a sequel”

- Public Enemy, Don't Believe The Hype, 1988

Is B.C. New Democratic Party leader John Horgan really public enemy No. 1?

You might think so if you watch television, listen to radio, read newspapers or go online – and see a constant barrage of negative ads about Horgan from two unknown groups fronted by right wing ex-business executives.

Between them, John Winter and Jim Shepard have a multi-million advertising budget to trash Horgan and the B.C. NDP and, surprise, both men are very, very close to B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark.

That they don’t like Horgan’s politics is as obvious as the fact they see him as a serious threat to defeat Clark on May 9 or they and their secret backers wouldn’t spend millions.

But what do Winter, former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO, and Shepard, ex-CEO of Finning — Canada’s biggest Caterpillar dealer, stand for?

Winter has argued against having any minimum wage at all, in favour of using temporary foreign workers, supported the harmonized sales tax that B.C. voters killed, called for ending B.C.’s ban on using replacement workers in labour disputes and wants the complete privatization of wine, beer and liquor.

If Winter’s views are hard right and out of step with most British Columbians and even the B.C. Liberals on some issues, Shepard is possibly more extreme.

Shepard, a former Clark advisor who ran a similar campaign in 2013, claims that governments in B.C., under former NDP premiers Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark, and the U.S., under ex-President Barack Obama, were “socialist.”

"It worries me about leadership in the U.S. right now [under Obama] and the direction it is going. You know, we lived through socialism in B.C. for 10 years. I know what it looks like and it is not pretty," Shepard said in 2010.

Ironically, Glen Clark is now president of the Pattison Group, the second largest private company in Canada, while Harcourt sits on two corporate boards.

So if you like the hard right-wing politics of Shepard and Winter and fear “socialism” as practised by the likes of Obama, perhaps Horgan isn’t for you.

But as Public Enemy says: don’t believe the hype – and consider the source.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com or email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman.