Skeena MLA Robin Austin has decided who he’ll be backing in the NDP leadership race.
“I’m very happy to endorse John Horgan for leader of the NDP,” he said, adding that there’s two main reasons he chose him over the two other main candidates, Mike Farnworth and Adrian Dix.
“I believe that of the three candidates, he has the best ability to communicate….an alternate vision to the current Liberal government,” Austin said of Horgan, an MLA representing Juan de Fuca in the suburbs west of Victoria.
“Part of the challenge of leading the opposition is not just the part of opposing things we don’t think the government are doing well, but the challenge is to advocate and present a vision of how we would do things differently, and connect with enough British Columbians that they will give us the opportunity to form government,” he continued.
In this sense, Austin felt that Horgan has a better chance of communicating than Farnworth or Dix.
“The second reason why I’ve chosen to endorse John is that he has the greatest knowledge of what life is like rural B.C., and in particular, in northern British Columbia,” Austin said, saying that Horgan’s background and job as critic for energy, mines and minerals critic has meant that he’s spent a lot of time travelling throughout the province.
“So wherever he goes, he understands the challenges of delivering public services to British Columbia, he understands the challenges on the environmental front,” Austin said, saying that he understands people in rural B.C. want jobs but also want to protect the environment.
Horgan also knows that there’s been cutbacks in the health care and school systems here.
“I’m hoping that if he is the person chosen, that he will be the best leader to figure out ways of delivering services out of Victoria in a way that recognizes the unique challenges of delivering these services in rural B.C.,” Austin said. “That’s why I’m going with him.”
He also noted that constituents were impressed with Horgan during his campaign trip up north earlier this month.
Farnworth made the trip north early in the new year and Dix stopped in Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Terrace late last week.
Another northwest NDP MLA, Gary Coons, from the North Coast riding, is also supporting Horgan.
Coons said that while Horgan may come from an urban area, he’s taken the time to learn about rural issues.
The leadership candidates return to Terrace April 6 for a debate, one of a series being held across B.C. The theme of the debate is jobs.
Austin was one of a group of NDP MLAs opposed to the leadership of Carole James, a move that eventually resulted in her resigning late last year.
In the meantime, New Westminster MLA Dawn Black has been chosen to be the interim leader until the party’s leadership convention takes place April 17.
Other candidates eyeing the leader of the opposition position besides Horgan, Dix and Farnworth are Powell River-Sunshine Coast Nicholas Simons and Dana Larsen.