NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth tries to lure environmentally minded party members

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      NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth has unveiled a far-reaching environmental platform. If he is elected leader this April, it may persuade some Green voters to back the NDP in the next provincial election.

      In a news release issued today (February 22), Farnworth has promised to repeal the Significant Projects Streamlining Act, which gives the provincial government the power to overrule local zoning decisions.

      Premier Gordon Campbell enacted this law so he could ram through megaprojects in spite of opposition from local governments. B.C. Liberal leadership candidates have been silent on this issue.

      Farnworth, as a former muncipal politician, clearly understands how antidemocratic this legislation really is.

      Farnworth has also pledged to open up independent-power-purchasing agreements to scrutiny. He suggested that he might end or amend those contracts that don't serve the public interest, which will no doubt elicit howls of outrage from the independent power sector.

      In addition, he's called for a moratorium on independent power projects and a “blue belt” to protect migration areas and spawning grounds for wild salmon.

      Under Farnworth's plan, carbon-tax revenue would fund transit and low-carbon green initiatives. He would also force industrial carbon emitters to pay the tax.

      There's no talk of forest-tenure-system reform or ending logging in watersheds among his environmental promises. But Farnworth has pledged a "massive program of reforestation" and legislation to protect groundwater. Whether that means imposing restrictions on the hydraulic fracturing for natural gas remains an open question.

      In light of these promises, it's not surprising that Farnworth is supported by some environmentally minded New Democrats, such as Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming, former cabinet minister John Cashore, and former MLA Barbara Copping.

      Leadership rival John Horgan has claimed that he's the environmental candidate in the race, but he hasn't gone as far as Farnworth when it comes to providing a green platform for NDP members.

      Farnworth's announcement should address the concerns of some Lower Mainland environmentalists, who still remember his role as an NDP cabinet minister in killing TransLink's vehicle levy and putting the regional transporation agency on the road to financial ruin.

      But without a promise to stop the road-building frenzy launched by Campbell and Kevin Falcon, Farnworth won't win all of them over.

      Like other NDP candidates, Farnworth said he will enact whistle-blower protection, strengthen freedom-of-information legislation, and ban the use of cosmetic pesticides in residential and public areas.

      All things considered, Farnworth has probably helped his chances with his environmental platform.

      One of his chief rivals, Adrian Dix, was principal secretary to the least environmentally minded B.C. NDP premier ever elected (Glen Clark).

      Meanwhile, one of the greenest NDP leadership candidates, Nicholas Simons, might be looking for someone else to endorse if he fails to gain a large amount of support after the first couple of ballots.

      In his news release, Farnworth included a positive comment about his environmental platform from Norm Macdonald. He's the NDP MLA who quit as caucus chair because he couldn't stay on the job while Carole James was running the show.

      However, none of the James supporters in the race (Farnworth, Horgan, and Dix) have given any strong and visible public indication that they are willing to mend fences with all members of the Baker's Dozen, including Simons, who opposed James's leadership.

      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.




      Feb 22, 2011 at 4:01pm

      Politic's confusing side rears its head with a key member of Farnworth's campaign team, Marcella Munro being partners in life with Brad Zubyk, a key member of Christy Clark's campaign team.

      Politics can have strange bedfellows?

      Jim R

      Feb 22, 2011 at 4:31pm

      After reading the whole platform on his website, he's convinced me - he'll have my vote to be the new leader

      Don Galloway

      Feb 22, 2011 at 4:39pm

      Just read Farnworth's full environmental platform on his website. It's impressive. I did, in fact vote Green in 2009, but joined the NDP to have a vote in the leadership. Farnworth's level of understanding and commitment to sustainability will get him my vote. He's gone further, bolder and more detailed than Horgan and Dix is well-known as being very un-green. I like that Farnworth's plan is very detailed and specific about things he would do and is very innovative with ideas like "blue belt" protection for wild salmon and a no-net-loss for the ALR and food security in each region. This type of vision was missing with Carole James and I believe it will win Farnworth a lot of support.

      Mike Summers

      Feb 22, 2011 at 4:54pm

      As former leader of BC Refederation, Mike has my support.
      He is a clear thinker and moderate too.
      And I see him as the only chance of making sure the Liberals do not accidentally regain power.

      PT Barnum

      Feb 22, 2011 at 10:27pm

      Greens will be disappointed if they expect much of any NDP leadership candidate. Like the Libs the NDP in power puts economic growth before all else.

      Regular voter

      Feb 23, 2011 at 6:11am

      Currently Mike is my third choice out of the top three. He is still better than any of those BCLieberals who make up past and current governments under Gordon Campbell. Those shysters have to go no matter what. A decade in opposition might, just might return them to some semblance of humanness. Their job is to represent the people of British Columbia not the corporate interests. In this they have failed miserably. The really tired rhetoric that supporting corporate interests trickles down to support people had clearly been disproven over the last disaster decade in this province. Never have so many had so little. The worst part is that the BCLieberals have successfully lowered the expectations of citizens as to what their government should provide i.e. actual healthcare, education and care for our elders. Check out the expectations of the corporate Big Boys &Girls! They understand the crooks will pay out to them in spades and in millions and billions of taxpayers hard earned dollars.

      Mike will do as Leader but I admit to pulling for Horgan. John Horgan has the best overall clean record, has put on the fullest respectful campaign and frankly looks like a Premier! As New Democrats we need to win on behalf of everyone struggling to survive out there. I believe Horgan is our best bet for Premier.

      Steve Y

      Feb 23, 2011 at 6:47am

      The environment is important and all but the BCNDP pretend that BC is one step away from being mordor. It is one of the largest almost untouched areas in the world. Nobody preserves as much of their land as us and somehow the next resort or pipeline will completely destroy the whole province. The NDP are out of touch if they think that they can win election by completely ignoring economics and focusing only on "environmentalism"

      Charles B

      Feb 23, 2011 at 7:08am

      Mike Farnsworth an environmentalist. What a joke .. Where was he for the last 7 years when Carole James ignored the environment? Silent ... Why did he never support Sustainable BC that was ignored by Carole James for 7 years. Where was Mike when the BC NDP lost all support of every environmental organization for their opposition to the gas tax?

      Mike Farnsworth is not interested at all in preserving the environment and never has been.