Mike Farnworth laughs when asked if he’s a throwback to the Glen Clark era in B.C. politics. It’s a line his Liberal rivals use often when speaking of the NDP — “We don’t want to go back to the ‘90s.”
But he brushes it off: “It’s 2011. If that’s where they’re stuck at, I think that says more about them than it does me, the NDP, or anybody else.”
During a stop at the Nelson Star today on his leadership campaign tour, Farnworth said he looks back with pride on things accomplished while he was in government, including the province’s protected area strategy and the creation of the Columbia Basin Trust.
“Those were great things,” he said. “The other nice thing about having been in government is learning from your mistakes.
“What I find fascinating about the Liberals when they say ‘we don’t want to go back to the ‘90s’ is they clearly didn’t learn from our mistakes, because they’re making them today.”
Farnworth cites his experience — he has been an MLA for 16 of the last 20 years, and held several cabinet postings — along with his ability to unite the caucus as reasons he should be chosen the NDP’s next leader.He says he’s always been able to get along with his opponents too — including several now seeking the Liberal leadership.
“That’s one of the strengths I bring. An ability to work with people regardless of their point of view. That’s my approach in my politics: find common ground and get things done.”
On two hot button topics, Farnworth agrees the carbon tax is here to stay, and the revenue it generates should be used to fund transit projects. But he is not a fan of run-of-river schemes.
“We have to stop the giveaway of our rivers in this province,” he says. “Public power is one of the crown jewels of British Columbia and one of our greatest assets.”
Farnworth says he’d review contracts to see if they’re in the public interest.
“This lottery of staking claims is a 19th century approach that has no place in 21st century British Columbia,” he says. “These are our rivers, it should be public power.”
Farnworth is joined on his Kootenay tour by Columbia River–Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald, a key supporter. He is the second NDP leadership candidate to visit Nelson-Creston, after Adrian Dix.
John Horgan is also expected here on Friday.
All five leadership contenders will be in Nelson for a debate on March 24. The new leader will be chosen on April 17.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that fellow NDP leadership contender John Horgan is “cautiously supportive” of independent power projects. In fact, Horgan has said the government should put a moratorium on such projects.