The race to succeed Adrian Dix is on.
It looked and sounded that way the very night and in the same room where Dix told his Vancouver-Kingsway constituents on Wednesday (September 18) that he would be stepping down as B.C. NDP leader.
While Dix was still busy shaking hands and hugging people at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House, three of the people present—and who have been touted as possible successors—were less reticent to talk as compared to when Dix hadn’t yet announced that he would be quitting.
Between Mike Farnworth, John Horgan, and George Heyman, it was Farnworth who was most forthcoming.
Amiable and looking relaxed as Dix worked the room, Farnworth shared this thoughts about what kind of leader the B.C. NDP needs after its unexpected loss in the May 14, 2013, election.
“I think that the next leader has gotta be able to connect with British Columbians and capture their hearts and minds and make sure that we win the next election,” Farnworth told reporters.
Now the MLA for Port Coquitlam, Farnworth has been around for quite a while.
He was elected twice during the 1990s, when the B.C. NDP won back-to-back elections in 1991 and 1996.
“I believe that the next leader of the B.C. NDP has got to be someone who is electable,” Farnworth said. Farnworth placed second to Dix when the latter was chosen leader in 2011 following the bitter ouster of Carole James.
According to Farnworth, he will be talking to his colleagues in caucus, family, and constituents about what they think he should do next. “I’m going to give it serious consideration,” he said.
Horgan was also around during the NDP reign in the ’90s, as a government staffer. He’s now MLA for Juan de Fuca. In 2011, he came third to Dix and Farnworth in the race for the provincial leadership.
After Dix delivered his speech, reporters asked Horgan if he would contest for the post again.
“I’m going to take a couple of weeks to talk to my former supporters and to other people to see what they think my role should be in the new rebirth of the NDP,” Horgan said. He added that he’ll ask Dix for his advice as a “friend”.
Then there’s Heyman, who was elected last May as MLA for Vancouver-Fairview.
Heyman comes with a solid background in labour: president for nine years of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union and vice president of the B.C. Federation of Labour and the National Union of Public and General Employees.
He also has strong environmental credentials. Before winning the nomination for Vancouver-Fairview, he was the executive director of Sierra Club B.C.
“Lots of people have talked to me,” Heyman told the Straight after Dix delivered his speech Wednesday.
When asked if he thinks being a first-term MLA and a new member of the caucus is a handicap, he responded: “I’m not going to speculate about what would be a good thing or a bad thing for me today.”
He noted, however, that he has been asked by many “within the party” as well as “outside the party” what his plans are. And though he wouldn’t give a yes or no answer to the leadership question, he did say: “I’m certainly not closing any doors.”