Public Eye – March 31

Islanders Hold Influence Over NDP Leadership Race

  • Mar. 30, 2011 5:00 a.m.

BC NDP leadership candidate Dana Larsen

Islanders Hold Influence Over NDP Leadership Race

When provincial New Democrats choose their next leader on April 17, Surrey party members will have a significant say in determining the outcome of that vote. But the voices of Vancouver Island cardholders could be equally loud, according to membership data exclusively obtained by Monday.

At the time the data was compiled, 2,000 members had yet to be assigned a home riding. However, Surrey was the region with the most assigned members — 5,964. And Vancouver Island was close behind with 5,513.

That means leadership candidate John Horgan — who represents the riding of Juan de Fuca and is best known on the Island — might have more support than initially anticipated.

But that’s not the only story the data tells. According to those numbers:

n The New Democrat membership stands at 28,415. By comparison, the Liberals reported in February their membership was now “approaching 90,000” as a result of the party’s own leadership race. This, despite the fact the Liberals have a reputation for ignoring their grassroots;

n Even though three out of the four ridings in northwestern British Columbia are held by New Democrats — Gary Coons, Doug Donaldson and Robin Austin — there are only 455 party members in the whole region;

n Leadership hopeful Mike Farnworth has 1,086 members in his own constituency association. That’s more than twice the number of members in Adrian Dix and Horgan’s associations;

n MLA Sue Hammell’s constituency association has 1,582 members — more than any other in the province. Hammell is one of Dix’s endorsers; and

n Among those ridings not held by the opposition, Surrey-Panorama Ridge has the most party members — 977. That riding was formerly represented by Jagrup Brar — one of Farnworth’s supporters. Brar is now the MLA for Surrey-Fleetwood, which has 837 cardholders.

Former cabinet minister praises pot activist leadership candidate

Marijuana activist Dana Larsen has been written off by many pundits as a no-hope provincial New Democrat leadership candidate. In fact, a few months ago, ex-MLA Corky Evans told Larsen he might be humiliated or even damaged by entering the race to succeed Carole James.

But Evans has now stated, “I was so wrong that I am embarrassed to remember I said it.”

In an email sent to friends and supporters and obtained by Monday, the former cabinet minister — who has endorsed Mike Farnworth’s bid for the party leadership — wrote Larsen’s “ideas and his capacity to express them” has elevated New Democrats.

According to Evans, the Cannabis Culture Magazine founding editor showed off those qualities when responding to a question about taxation issues during a recent debate in Nelson.

“Dana has never suffered under the oppression of a Message Box, so he probably doesn’t know that it is exceedingly rare to hear a politician say, just straight up, who is stealing from who and why,” Evans stated.

“When he explained to people that the Liberals are not stupid and the outcomes of their actions are not mistakes, but the intended result of policies meant to degrade the role of the Province, he received the largest (I didn’t have a meter, but I think I am right) applause of the night.”

But Larsen wasn’t the only leadership candidate Evans had kind words for.

In his email, he also praised Adrain Dix for his mastery of numbers and data, John Horgan for talking the best and Farnworth for being the most likely to lead the party like a conductor rather than a dictator.

As a result, Evans concluded, “Do I care who you vote for? Not even a little bit. I will work for any of them.” M

Sean Holman is editor of the online provincial political news journal Public Eye (publiceyeonline.com). He can be reached at editorial@publiceyeonline.com.

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