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Farnworth says he'll unite NDP, defeat Libs

Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth entered the race to lead the British Columbia NDP saying he's the right person to heal divisions in his party and defeat the B.C. Liberals.

“You’re not just choosing the next leader of the Official Opposition,” said the text of the speech he was to deliver in Port Coquitlam this morning. “You are choosing the next Premier of the province after we defeat the Liberal government.”

Farnworth cited the support of Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming and Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald. While Farnworth and Fleming were in the group that supported keeping Carole James as leader, Macdonald was part of the group of 13 her forced her resignation.

“It’s no secret that in the last few months we have been more focused on internal party matters than on the issues that are important to you and your family,” he said. “We all share responsibility and I want to make it clear that you all deserved better . . . The days of infighting are over. And, the days of healing and unity begin now.”

Farnworth said he would listen to British Columbians and build economic and social success together, while making “sustainability a key lens for every public policy decision we make.” He said he would keep the carbon tax and use it to fund public transit.

He also said he would support a strong forestry sector. “We should never lose sight of the fact that much of the wealth in BC is created outside of the Lower Mainland,” he said. “It’s that wealth that funds the public services we all rely on . . . I support an ambitious Rural Economic Development program that relies on the expertise and know-how of the people who actually live there.”

Farnworth said candidates for the Liberal leadership will continue a Victoria-knows-best approach to governing. “You have four candidates who have been joined at Gordon Campbell’s hip for over a decade who are now trying to convince British Columbians that they have never met the guy. How about their 'outsider' candidate who was Deputy Premier and the second most powerful person in the Gordon Campbell government?”

A Farnworth led NDP government would clean up the Liberals' HST mess and would hold an inquiry into the sale of B.C. Rail.

Farnworth, who served three terms as a Port Coquitlam councillor, was first elected provincially in 1991 and was re-elected in 1996, 2005 and 2009. After the 1996 election he seved in cabinet in various positions, including health minister and the minister of social development and economic security.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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