BC NDP All-Candidates Meeting in Burnaby

Late yesterday afternoon I ventured out to the Socialist Republic of Burnaby to see three of the NDP leadership candidates and Dana Larsen speak to a very friendly crowd of followers at the New West and District Labour Council.

The room where the leadership all-candidates event was being held was chock-a-block full of NDP from the federal scene right down to the municipal scene. Fin Donnelly, Peter Julian, and Bill Siksay were in attendance. Raj Chouhan, Harry Bains, Kathy Corrigan, Bruce Ralston and Mable Elmore were on hand to represent the provincial arm of the party. Of course the reigning supreme-ruler of Burnaby, Mayor Derek Corrigan, Gary Wong and Sav Dahliwal were there on behalf of the local electoral scene.

The event began with each of the candidates giving a four minute hello and bio  with a why they should be selected as leader pitch added in. Poor John Horgan struggled with the clock all night; at one point he quipped that he is from Irish heritage and he cannot even say hello in four minutes.

After the candidates had done their four minute intros, people from the crowd lined up at a microphone to pose questions to the candidates. Each candidate then had one minute to answer the question. At that point Horgan really began to struggle; he would spend fifteen seconds of every minute telling the crowd how the question is tough to answer in one minute. Never mind 45 seconds. Fortunately the chair of the meeting kept reminding all the speakers that she had a gavel and she was not afraid to use it.

The questions that were posed were like watching A-Rod playing t-ball. “What are you going to do about the cuts that have been made to the WCB?’ or this classic, “What are you going to do about the collective bargaining rights that the BC Liberals took away from us?” or “What are you going to do about the privatization of BC Hydro.” “Are you going to fully fund the public education system?” or “How are you going to re-engage union workers” or “How are you going to deal with caucus solidarity in the future” so on.

Every question produced a swing and a hit. The people in the hall would clap their hands together in approval when the candidates would talk about the disgraceful behaviour of the BC Liberals. The shouts of “shame” echoed around the room when the shameful acts of the BC Liberals were mentioned.

At one point I started to lose focus and I swear I heard the candidates all together promising more sunny days and apple pie for all union members. I could be mistaken though.

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After the meeting had adjourned I had the opportunity to talk briefly with the three candidates. My first question to each of the candidates was about Harry Lali dropping out of the leadership race because of the costs that the NDP have put in place for the candidates. The final question I asked each candidate was which BC Liberal leadership candidate they would like to face off against in an election. The answers I got to that question was very informative. Watch and see what you think.

First up was Adrian Dix.

After Adrian I pulled Mike Farnworth aside and listened to him.

Finally I had a chance to chat with John Horgan. Excuse my blooper in the middle of this recording. I had a brain fart and started to cut off my interview. Horgan was a little taken aback but graciously agreed to continue talking to me even after my blooper.

So which candidate do you like? Care to comment?

6 thoughts on “BC NDP All-Candidates Meeting in Burnaby

  1. caitlyn

    Do I like Adrian Dix better because he went first? Because of his retro glasses? Because he mentioned teachers?

    On the other hand, John Horgan had some things to say that interested me. I haven’t paid much attention to him thus far.

    My jury is still out but I appreciate The Left Coast giving me bits to mull over.

  2. Dave Lundy

    Stacy, I’m considering having to copyright just about everything I say, at a mike and beyond it. “Batting practice????” Where did you get that one from? Perhaps my lead in to my so called question? Seriously though, I hardly think the issue of caucus solidarity is one that could be construed as a softball. It’s the crux of the entire leadership debate. It’s easy to pontificate out of the NDP policy manual (as many of the loaded questions to the candidates allowed them to do). But dealing with the dirty dozen, now that’s going to take some leadership. Speaking of the dirty dozen, you didn’t mention the 2 key issues surrounding their representatives in the leadership campaign.

    1. The almost standing ovation that the announcement that Harry Lali had stepped down as a candidate for leader. Too bad I didn’t get to ask him a favourite question of mine before he bailed out… “How can you in good conscious run for the leadership of any political party when you yourself don’t believe in caucus or party discipline?”

    2. Absolutely no mention of the empty chair at the head of the room, representing Nicholas “tough guy” Simons. Mable Elmore was at the meeting. But I heard that Nicky had a case of the CHICKEN pox. Could that be from the real rough ride he got the last time he was in Burnaby at an all candidates meeting?

    What disappointed me at the all candidates meeting was the true lack of substantive questions that would have allowed the candidates to show the differences in their styles, personalities etc. I know it was sponsored by the New West and District Labour council, but almost to a person, the questions were spoon fed union issues. CUPE and Social workers (not that I’m not knocking it, but its just fact) teachers and the issue of class sizes, COPE and Hydro. It was more predictable than All Star Wrestling.

    Minimum wage, health care, etc. All “in the box” safe soapbox answers. Horgan at least admitted that the party had to start talking about the economy, to have ideas of our own and to sell ourselves rather than attack the Fiberals. I thought Adrian did a good job, but looked really tired. Mike Farnworth might as well be Michael J. Fox. I kept waiting for the DeLorean and Christopher Lloyd to show up with his version of Back to the Future. Both Adrian and Mike played it safe. Horgan went out on a limb, and with some of the questions asked, 1 minute wasn’t enough to answer them.

    The moderator herself was not that good. Primarily because in spite of her mandate of “no speeches” every single person (including myself because I thought, what the hell, “when in Rome (3 weeks from now) why not do what the Romans do.”) had a 2 minute preamble to their question.

    Still Nicholas CHICKEN poxing out was too bad. He was the candidate I wanted to really grill. But typical of the dirty dozen. Duck and hide in the shadows rather than face the music.

    In terms of the overall night, I give the night to Horgan who was engaging, funny, dead on, and spoke the best of the bunch. Larsen, if not for the propensity to promote everything based on BC Bud, ignoring Tommy Chong’s endorsement video that once and for all proved that long term use of pot DOES rot your brain, would be a very good candidate. But as long as he totes the Pro Pot idea, he’s wide open to attack and ridicule, from within and without.

    Adrian acquitted himself well as he always does, as did Mike. But Horgan really went for it. And good on him for pushing back on the moderator, as they all should have.

    Advice for NWDLC and all candidates meetings. If you want to sponsor one, do it on a night you’re not meeting as a LC, so no one’s rushed around and pushed out the door.

  3. Dave Lundy

    Yeah, well the copyright infringement jab was just that. In reality dealing with these types of church choir worship sessions, it becomes harder and harder to really explain the blandness of them. They should be held in Hyde Park or something perhaps.I thought that if one of them had stepped out and made a comment against party policy, kind of like what Dana did in regards to the Equity Mandate (brave manoever in that particular room where they just love the inEquity Persondate) it would have been interesting to see the crowd’s reaction.

    As I said, I found the questions and preambles to be the same old same old. The answers were pretty much stock answers save for a moment or 2. I would have loved to hear Farnworth talk about how if leader he would deal with the economic blindspot of the party. The NDP is strong on health care, education, social programmes, but really weak on economic policies, and more to the point, explaining why tax cuts aren’t a good thing, why having the lowest tax rates in Canada have resulted in cuts to education, health care provisions, and increases in user fees and other programmes. A good platform would be to talk to people about what they want from their health care, education, and social programmes, and draw the line that shows that you can’t keep cutting taxes and shifting the burden for funding these programmes onto the citizenry exclusively, all in the name of keeping Walmart, Canaccord and other other corporations in ecstacy.

    But in that room on that particular night, everyone had their own pet issue, or special interest. And they wanted to be pandered to. And pretty much, they were. But the real crux of the matter comes to personal style and substance, and leadership abilities.

    Sorry, just one more thing to add about the meeting. Someone bemoaned the fact that there were not any women running for the leadership. Jenny Kwan could have stuck her head above water,and probably would have garnered some support. This same person once again raised the issue of affirmative action. It was wrong in 2007 to allow the party to get hijacked on that particular issue, and in that case was a weakness of Carole’s leadership, in not looking at the overall bigger picture. Too much time and money was focused on the equity mandate. Meanwhile those same resources could have gone into mentoring female candidates, or candidates in general, regardless of their gender. Without fighting that fight again, bringing up proposals that remove ANYONE’s right to run for office of any kind in BC, on the basis of gender, race, colour, creed… is plainly wrong. People in the labour movement talk about fighting for equality in the workplace, then show up at things like Tuesday night’s meeting, and immediately seek to make the party unequal.

    In 2007, alot of money and resources, and votes, walked out of this party. Not because people are against women running. But because people were against giving money and support to a policy, that if you reversed it and said “Women are barred from running in incumbant ridings” would have started a firestorm the likes no one has ever seen or will ever see. But because it was directed at the males in the party… it was perfectly fine, in some people’s eyes (Carole, Jim Sinclair, etc).

    Wrong is wrong. If a policy can’t stand up to the test if its tested in other ways, its bad policy.

    With that, I think that Dawn Black has shown all the leadership candidates what it takes to be a strong accountable leader, who resonates with people. And she didn’t need nor ever would need an equity mandate to be able to run and win an election. Totally off thread I know, but I was pretty offended that someone would even raise that issue, after how far this party went to shove that mandate down everyone’s throats. Reminds me once again, why I stopped my PAC last year and previously.

  4. Freya Keddie

    John Horgan looks great, sounds great, & I like his positive approach.
    He’s right; the NDP has to step up to the plate & provide their vision for the province.

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