Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth unveiled his ninth endorsement Wednesday, as the contest for the next B.C. NDP leader heads for its voting day on April 17.
Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog considered his own leadership bid after being part of the group who forced out former leader Carole James in December. Now he says Farnworth is the "only leader" who can unite the party and win an election against Premier Christy Clark.
"I think Mike Farnworth represents the character, experience and ability that's going to win the next election," Krog told a news conference at the B.C. legislature Wednesday. "That's no reflection on Carole. The voters had their conclusion twice with Carole. We didn't win. I'm convinced, as are many others in the caucus and many in the party, that with a new leader we could win."
Farnworth said the fact that six of the 13 dissident MLAs have endorsed his candidacy shows that the "reunification process" is going well, and that's important with an uncertain year ahead. Clark's hesitation to seek a seat in a by-election in former premier Gordon Campbell's constituency suggests a provincial election could come as soon as this summer, he said.
A cabinet minister in previous NDP governments, Farnworth has attracted endorsements from around the province. They include West Kootenay MLA Katrine Conroy, Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, Surrey-Fleetwood MLA Jagrup Brar and Delta North MLA Guy Gentner.
Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix has his own leadership supporters, including Surrey MLAs Harry Bains, Sue Hammell and Bruce Ralston, Nelson-Creston MLA Michelle Mungall and former NDP leader Joy MacPhail.
Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan's team includes Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan, Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis, Skeena MLA Robin Austin, North Island MLA Claire Trevena, Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, North Coast MLA Gary Coons, Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley and Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali.
The other leadership contenders, Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons and marijuana activist Dana Larsen, have trailed in polls and do not have support among elected NDP members.
Party-sponsored debates continue around the province. Candidates were in Qualicum Beach Tuesday talking about health care, with youth the theme for Thursday night's debate in Victoria. Audio or video files of debates are available here.
The final three debates are environmental sustainability April 2 in Vancouver, energy in Prince George April 4 and jobs April 6 in Terrace.