In a year-end interview with CBC Vancouver host Andrew Chang, Horgan said being the government-in-waiting can be tricky, because the party has to balance fulfilling the role of opposition while working alongside the ruling party to get legislation passed.
An example, Horgan said, was the NDP's support for the Liberals' tax regime on liquid natural gas companies. At the same time, the NDP did not support a separate piece of Liberal legislation on LNG environmental emissions.
"It's always been tricky to find the balance between the environment and the economy. You're supposed to hold the government accountable and you're also supposed to give hope to the public on any given day, you could be the government," he said.
"And what I'm bringing in my leadership — I believe I'm bringing to the NDP caucus — is the discipline to the public. Yeah, there are challenges, there are trade offs. It's a grey world out there. It's not black and white."
Horgan acknowledged that although he is well-known on Vancouver Island, he needs to raise his profile across the province. That will be his strategy as party leader for the next 2½ years, he said.
Asked what voters don't know about him, Horgan replied: "I don't suffer fools, but I'm a softy."
Watch the full interview: Horgan in conversation with Chang