Mike Farnworth enters B.C. NDP leadership race
Veteran Port Coquitlam MLA and NDP finance critic Mike Farnworth has become the first candidate in his party's leadership race.
Farnworth issued a news release this morning, in which he stated that "under his leadership, the BC NDP will broaden its base of support by focusing on the issues that matter to British Columbians".
“Under my leadership, the BC NDP will stand firmly for a strong and diversified economy that provides family-supporting jobs and builds shared prosperity," Farnworth said in the statement. "I believe this can be done while protecting our environment and the natural beauty of this great province. Christy Clark has told us it’s one or the other, I believe our economic and environmental sustainability go hand-in-hand."
Farnworth, an SFU geography grad, was first elected to the legislature in 1991 after serving three terms on Port Coquitlam council.
Four cabinet posts in less than four years
Former premier Glen Clark promoted Farnworth to cabinet as the minister of municipal affairs and housing in 1997.
This came after Clark had been booed at a Union of B.C. Municipalities convention—and Farnworth, as a former municipal councillor, helped smooth relations between the province and local governments.
A year later, Clark moved Farnworth into an economic portfolio, making him the minister of employment and investment.
In this role, Farnworth approved a notorious casino licence to a company co-owned by a friend of Clark, leading to the premier's downfall.
Another NDP premier, Ujjal Dosanjh, made Farnworth the minister of health in February 2000. Nine months later, Farnworth was shuffled into his fourth portfolio less than four years: social development and economic security.
Farnworth along with all but two other NDP candidates was defeated in the 2001 election, but he was back in the legislature in 2005.
Farnworth worked in Iraq and the Balkans
While out of office he worked in the Balkans and Iraq with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a nongovernmental organization currently chaired by former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright.
His tenure is described this way on the NDP website: "From 2001 to 2004, Mike worked in Bulgaria, the Balkans and most recently Iraq on democratic governance programs to help build multiparty democracies in former one-party states."
The National Democratic Institute has been funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, which, in turn, has received funding from the U.S. Congress.
"The NED's NGO status provides the fiction that recipients of NED money are getting 'private' rather than US government money," former CIA operative Philip Agee has written. "This is important because so many countries, including both the US and Cuba, have laws relating to their citizens being paid to carry out activities for foreign governments."
The progressive U.S.-based Center for Media and Democracy operates a website called Sourcewatch.org. It has quoted NED cofounder Alan Weinstein's 1991 statement: "A lot of what we [NED] do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA."
Sourcewatch noted that the NED was founded in 1982 during the Ronald Reagan presidency. The website added:
Most of the NED, and its affiliated organizations, deals with influencing political processes abroad. The means employed range from influencing civil society, media, fostering business groups, lending support to preferred politicians/political parties, election monitoring, and fostering human rights groups. Depending on the level of development of the political system and the sophistication of politicians, different strategies are applied. In underdeveloped countries (e.g., Haiti), it involves developing the civil infrastructure/civil society groups, human right monitoring groups, and especially, bonding with the country's business elite. In more advanced countries, with a civil society base, the focus is on fostering politicians/elite who favor the neo-liberal economic/political model. From the NED's website it is evident that the principal regions where it seeks to influence political outcomes are the Middle East, the former Soviet republics, some countries in Latin America, and Africa.
Author, former foreign-service officer, and long-time critic of U.S. imperialism William Blum has written that the National Endowment for Democracy is a "Trojan Horse" with "four principal initial recipients of funds: the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs; an affiliate of the AFL-CIO (such as the American Center for International Labor Solidarity); and an affiliate of the Chamber of Commerce (such as the Center for International Private Enterprise)."
"The NED, like the CIA before it, calls what it does supporting democracy," Blum wrote. "The governments and movements whom the NED targets call it destabilization."
There's never been any indication that Farnworth was involved in destabilizing foreign governments.
While with the National Democratic Institute, he was part of an assessment team that led to a report on Roma political participation in Bulgaria. This was funded by the Open Society Institute, which is backed by billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros.
Farnworth was tough on criminals
After Farnworth returned to the legislature, he was often in the news as the party's critic for the solicitor general ministry.
He adopted a law-and-order approach, sending a message that the B.C. NDP wasn't soft on crime. Farnworth's constituency included the Pickton pig farm, where human remains of missing women were found.
Later, Farnworth became the NDP health critic and house leader. He narrowly lost his party's last leadership race to Adrian Dix.
Following the 2013 election, he was appointed finance critic.
Farnworth is gay, but hasn't made an issue of this in his time in politics.
Around the legislature, Farnworth is known as a witty and friendly MLA who's a little less dogmatic than some of his colleagues.
Unlike his rival Dix in the last leadership campaign, Farnworth did not propose tax increases for corporations.
Farnworth took very green positions
However in 2011, Farnworth vigorously supported the carbon tax and advanced several strong environmental positions, including:
• Scrapping the Significant Projects Streamlining Act, which enables the B.C. government to overrule local governments' zoning decisions.
• Opening up independent power contracts to public scrutiny, including amending deals with B.C. Hydro that don't meet the public interest.
• Creating a "blue belt" to protect migratory routes for wild salmon and salmon-spawning areas.
The B.C. NDP lost the last election in part because it fared poorly in the outer suburbs of the Lower Mainland, including in the northeast sector.
Farnworth, as an MLA for an outer-suburban constituency, could be well-placed to bring some of those voters back into the NDP fold.
Mar 2, 2014 at 11:45am
Universal Basic Income, the only issue going forward.
Mar 2, 2014 at 11:49am
OOPs! There goes the 2017 election.
A yesterday's party, lead by a yesterday's politician does not bode well for the future. All I can say is that the NDP love to loose and its time for a real opposition party to be formed as the NDP are just a bunch of pigs feeding off the public pork barrel.
The BC Liberals must be jumping for joy with this.
Mar 2, 2014 at 11:52am
And just like that, the sun sets of the BC NDP.
Mar 2, 2014 at 12:02pm
After failing to win last year thanks to incompetence and choosing a leader directly linked with the NDP scandals of the 90's one would hope the new leader would be free of such associations. Instead it looks like the only people entering the race will be more retreads from the 90's and once again the choice will be between 20th century corruption or 21st century corruption. Such considerations are meaningless to those who simply support a party out of conditioning but appear to be of importance to the people who decide elections.
Ghost of Milton Acorn
Mar 2, 2014 at 7:06pm
This profile made for good reading, most informative, thanks.
Mar 2, 2014 at 11:09pm
There have been too many NDPer's working at the NDI. NDI-affiliated NDPers have too much control over the party. Enough with liberals in the NDP! Time to elect real socialists! To rejuvenate the NDP they should all be kicked out, Farnworth included.
Mar 3, 2014 at 12:04pm
"The issues that matter to British Columbians" are taxes that are too high, out of control unions sucking up those taxes, and silly quasi-governmental corporations that also suck up taxes and income from the working people. The ndp is directly responsible for those corporations - ICBC for example. And they stand firmly in the camp of taxes, taxes, and more taxes because they don't know how to balance a budget, just tax, tax, tax. And so the ndp slides into oblivion.
Mar 3, 2014 at 11:48pm
I see the NDP are once again going nowhere and fast!
Mar 4, 2014 at 9:41am
the main issue that matters to me is protecting the planet and all of its natural resources. i could quite happily watch the whole economy crash and burn, it's done us more harm than good anyway.
Mar 5, 2014 at 8:30am
This is the true figurehead for the NDP, bland, passionless, no ideas. The quintessential politician. At least Christy Clark is good looking.