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Actively considering NDP leadership bid, Heyman outlines vision

Not only is MLA George Heyman considering a run for the leadership of the British Columbia New Democratic Party, but he's beginning to articulate a platform and a vision.

"I'm actively considering it," said Heyman, who was first elected in 2013 in Vancouver-Fairview. "I will be considering it over the days and weeks to come."

In the long list of potential leaders, MLAs Mike Farnworth and John Horgan who placed second and third respectively in the 2011 bid are most frequently mentioned.

Said Heyman, "People are looking for some fresh ideas and fresh people and I think that will be a factor in this leadership race."

The NDP needs to communicate "a really clear vision" of how to address the issues that face British Columbians, he said. That means talking about good jobs, green jobs, environmental preservation and climate change.

It's a matter of taking the conversation beyond the environment versus jobs and talking about ways to have both, he said.

"If we do that well, I think we'll attract people who've tuned out and aren't voting," he said.

Heyman said he supports changing the voting system and the NDP should put forward a platform that attracts the votes of Green Party supporters or others who would like a new electoral system. He said he voted for the single transferable vote system himself, and that the next time such a question is put to the electorate the test shouldn't be as steep as it was in the last two referenda.

The NDP lost in May because it didn't do an effective job pointing out the government's failures, he said.

During the 1990s, when the NDP formed the government, Heyman was president of the BCGEU, which represents much of the provincial public service. In that role he was a vocal critic of the government, a strong negotiator and showed skill at finding win-win solutions, he said.

Heyman noted that some in his own party think he was too conciliatory as a union leader, but he says he dealt creatively with a difficult situation and saved a lot of people's jobs. "It's what I was elected to do," he said.

Asked if a former labour leader would make an easy target for the BC Liberals, Heyman said, "Christy Clark can spin it any way she wants."

Clark is someone who has done nothing in her life other than politics, except for a short period as "a shock radio host," he said.

Heyman said his own experience includes work in the ministry of forests, time as a labour leader and as head of the Sierra Club of B.C. where he advocated for both clean jobs and a clean environment. Each organization he led has been well-managed financially, he said.

"I don't think I'm that easy to caricature," he said. "I've done too many things."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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