B.C. is the third largest province and it’s time it started acting its size, says Mike Farnworth, New Democratic Party (NDP) leadership candidate.
The Port Coquitlam MLA, who is one of five vying for the position of party leader, was in Campbell River last Thursday to meet with NDP members and supporters.
One of the things about the current BC Liberal government that bothers Farnworth is how wishy washy B.C. is in its negotiations with the federal government.
“B.C. has been too unpredictable,” says Farnworth. “One day we’re shaking hands with Ottawa and then we poke them in the eye the next day. It’s time we starting punching for our size to make sure we get our share, it’s very important in terms of the future in British Columbia.”
Farnworth, who has been an MLA from 1991-2001 and then again since 2005, says it’s crucial for his party to win the next election so British Columbians can have a say in government decisions.
“We have to take a much more consultative approach than what we’ve seen in the last 10 years and I’ll even go as far as to say as when we were in government,” says Farnworth.
He cited the success of the Columbia Basin Trust, which ensures Kootenay residents get a share of the money generated from power-producting dams in the area. The NDP provided $500 million to help set up the initiative.
“That came about because we sat down and talked to them, we didn’t dictate to them,” says Farnworth. “When we were at our best was when we were bringing people together and realizing that solutions to our problems do not lie in the premier’s office.”
Farnworth says he is the right person to not only bring communities across the province together, but his party.
After a group of dissident MLA’s split the party and chased former NDP leader Carole James, the party appeared to be anything but united, something Farnworth says he can change.
“I’m able to work with people with different points of view. I think I bring with me a reputation as someone who can work with people and I respect all opinions,” says Farnworth. “We’re working together now more than before. If we engage in infighting, we’re dead.
“But I think we’re going to come out of this more united and ready to win an election. We’ve got to move on and not dwell on the past.”
Farnworth says if the NDP wins the next election and he becomes premier, he would like to broaden the restorative justice program; stop privatization, in particular with BC Hydro; extend the carbon tax to big industrial polluters and add more staff to the Environment Ministry to effectively conduct environmental assessments.
The NDP will vote on a new leader April 17. MLAs Adrian Dix, Nicholas Simons, John Horgan and marijuana activist Dana Larsen round out the list of leadership candidates.