Victoria NDP MLAs weigh in on leadership election

  • Apr. 12, 2011 3:00 p.m.

Voting day for the provincial NDP’s leadership election is fast approaching and local MLAs are divided in their personal endorsements.

Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis has endorsed Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan, the only Vancouver Island candidate in the race.

“I think that John gives us the best chance at winning the next election,” she said. “John has a special way of connecting with people … His depth of knowledge is unquestionable. He has a whole lifetime of experience, both in Ottawa and here.”

Horgan was born and raised on Vancouver Island and now lives in Langford.

“I’ve heard from people in my community that John would represent them and understand their issues very clearly,” Karagianis said. “He understands coastal communities, he understands having to take the ferry in order to get goods and services on and off the Island.”

Former party leader Carole James, who resigned in December, is not endorsing any of the candidates vying to replace her.

The MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill is concentrating on representing her riding these days and hasn’t announced whether she plans to run in the next provincial election.

Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, announced his support on Day 1 of candidate Mike Farnworth’s campaign. Fleming says the Port Coquitlam MLA is the best candidate to help unify the party, which was split under James’ leadership.

“We’ve been in opposition for a long time, and sometimes (opposition parties) fall into a rut where they are sometimes overly critical to the point of being seen as complainers,” he said. “Mike Farnworth, I think, will position the NDP as a government-in-waiting and make the NDP a fundamentally optimistic party.”

Farnworth has represented Port Coquitlam in the legislature since 2005. He was first elected to Mike Harcourt’s NDP government in 1991 and served as Minister of Health, Social Development and Economic Security. Farnworth’s much higher profile and his inclusive leadership style gives him a better shot at beating Premier Christy Clark in the next election, Fleming said. While Farnworth lives on the mainland, Fleming said “he gets Vancouver Island … He genuinely likes this community and understands it and the issues that need to be dealt with here.”

Saanich South MLA Lana Popham came out in support of Farnworth last month.

Other candidates vying for leadership of the party are Adrian Dix and Dana Larsen.

–with files from Kyle Slavin

Did you know?

Advanced polls for the NDP leadership election began Monday and run through Saturday. Election Day is April 17. NDP party members will have received a package in the mail containing a personal identification number to vote over the phone or online.