Farnworth says NDP must broaden its base of support

BC NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth was in the Okanagan this week, speaking Thursday evening in Penticton at an event organized for him by local constituency president Julia Pope.

  • Mar. 3, 2011 10:00 a.m.
Provincial NDP leadership hopeful Mike Farnworth answers a question during an interview with the Western News Thursday in Penticton.

Provincial NDP leadership hopeful Mike Farnworth answers a question during an interview with the Western News Thursday in Penticton.

BC NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth was in the Okanagan this week, speaking Thursday evening in Penticton at an event organized for him by local constituency president Julia Pope.

Farnworth said Thursday morning that he believes of all the candidates, he has the most potential to improve and develop the NDP’s policy platform, expand its base of public support and lead it to victory in the next provincial election.

“We are very good in the NDP with talking to people about health care and education,” said Farnworth. “People know that we are good at that and they trust us on those issues. But I think in order to win an election we’ve got to broaden our base of support.

“That is why we have to talk about not just health and education, but a whole range of issues such as the economy, public safety and the environment. We have to talk about those things in the terms that people view these things because that is what matters to them and their families. I think if we do that and have a positive alternative in the next election with a platform that speaks to people about the things they care about, we can win.”

Farnworth said it is paramount to the NDP that its new leader repair the internal damage inflicted leading up to former leader Carole James’ resignation.

“I think what the NDP members have to do is look at who can unite the party, because that is key, and who can speak to British Columbians about a positive alternative that will broaden our base of support,” said Farnworth.  “I believe those are two of the reasons why I am the best choice.”

According to Farnworth, currently there is too much power centralized in the premier’s office in Victoria, a structure he said negatively impacts the South Okanagan.

“We are one province, but we are many regions and many communities with a diverse population, and government needs to pay attention to all regions,” he said. “There are a lot of issues here, whether it is the environment, health care or seniors or economic activity that we have got to encourage. This is a tremendous province with huge potential and I think that if we have a government that wants to work with people and work with communities we can achieve a lot.”

Farnworth said if he were to serve as premier for a decade, he would hope to leave the province with a thriving resource sector, emerging industries and a citizenry that is optimistic about the future.

“My desire would be for people to look at my governments and say, ‘You know what, they have done a good job. They did what they said they were going to do and did it in the best interest of the public of British Columbia in large measure by sitting down and working with them as opposed to trying to pit one group against another,’” he said.

Farnworth is competing against Adrian Dix, John Horgan, Nicholas Simons and Dana Larson for the NDP leadership, which will be decided on April 17.