Premier John Horgan cracks jokes, promises help at UBCM

Premier John Horgan cracks jokes, promises help at UBCM

WATCH: John Horgan tackles major issues and cracks Trump jokes in his first Union of B.C. Municipalities address. Tess van Straaten reports.

It was John Horgan’s first Union of BC Municipalities address as premier and he couldn’t resist a Trump joke.

“This is huge!” Horgan joked, mimicking U.S. president Donald Trump as the crowd laughed. “This is probably the largest crowd ever at a UBCM! Largest crowd ever to hear a speech!”

Horgan, who is known for his usually bad ‘dad jokes’, also talked about prime minister Trudeau.

“We’ve both been successful despite the focus on our rich, luxurious hair,” Horgan quipped.

Joking aside, Horgan touched on some of the biggest issues facing B.C. during his address Friday morning.

The premier vowed not to back down on the softwood lumber dispute and promised much-needed relief for communities ravaged by worst fire season in B.C. history.

“The challenges we faced in the Interior this summer were absolutely extraordinary and the challenges we face going forward are equally extraordinary,” Horgan said.

Money to fight opioid crisis in B.C.

With an average of four people dying each day from the opioid crisis, Horgan announced $31 million for new intervention measures ? part of the $322 million allocated in the budget.

The premier also announced 600 modular housing units for Vancouver to combat homelessness, the first of 2,000 promised across the province.

“These homes are inexpensive, they’re quick to make and they’re movable so if you’ve got the land and you’ve got the zoning, we’ve got the cans,” Horgan said.

It was a passionate speech that resonated with local and provincial leaders.

“He truly cares about people,” Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said. “This is a man who speaks from his heart and I think we need that in British Columbia.”

Political analysts agree it was a strong performance ? if light on new commitments.

“This was a feel-good, first time for a new premier but he could have announced more,” UVic political science expert Michael Prince told CHEK News. “The budget update provided plenty of new spending in a whole host of areas. He could have talked more about child welfare and certainly some of the other ideas around education.”

Vancouver Island was also essentially overlooked, as much of Horgan’s focus was on the lower mainland.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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