Premier John Horgan holds a press conference on Jan. 16.

In a wide-ranging news conference Tuesday at the legislature, Premier John Horgan covered a number of issues from safety improvements on Sooke Road, to foreign investment in B.C.’s real estate market.

He leaves for Asia on the weekend, his first overseas trip as leader.

“It’s going to be a busy few weeks for me, and my team. We’re excited. We’re ready to get going,” Horgan said.

The trip begins in China, then South Korea before wrapping up in Japan. The agenda includes talks with government officials on tourism, forestry, manufacturing and energy.

Horgan’s trip will include speaking engagements and meetings with government and business leaders.  British Columbia exported $5.9 billion in goods to China in 2016, making it the province’s second largest export market. Japan is B.C.’s third largest trading partner.  But Horgan refuses to call for a ban on foreign investment in B.C. real estate.

“On the ban on foreign purchasers, I just don’t believe that in an open economy, that’s an appropriate way to proceed. I do believe that we need to knock back the speculation and make sure that we are penalizing that behaviour in the interest of reducing demand and softening prices,” Horgan said.

A rally at the premier’s constituency office on Monday focused on a  six-year-old Landen Alexa. The Sooke boy takes medication for a debilitating form of juvenile arthritis. But in order to ease his pain, his mother wants the province to pay $19,000 a month for a drug that would improve his quality of life. Both the premier and Minister of Health Adrian Dix, say that won’t happen.

“I agree with Adrian, we can’t have politicians approving drugs for distribution in British Columbia,” Horgan said.

Horgan also addressed the number of collisions on Sooke Road. A fatal car crash on Sooke Road in late December shut down the busy road for hours.  According to ICBC, there were 1,200 crashes on Sooke Road from 2005 to 2015.  Horgan hinted at an announcement later this week for safety changes to come.

“We’re going to be making an announcement later in the week about some preliminary steps for safety improvements, and there’ll be much more work done in that corridor,” Horgan said.

Horgan leaves for the 10-day trip on Saturday.

 

Mary Griffin