BC NDP [incumbent]
You might think election campaigns are old hat for Mike Farnworth.
He has been through seven provincial races since first being elected MLA in 1991 — after three terms on Port Coquitlam city council — and lost only one, when the NDP under then premier Glen Clark were nearly wiped out across the province in 2001. He ran for party leadership in 2011 to replace Carole James and was narrowly defeated by Adrian Dix and, three years ago, sought the top job against John Horgan, later quitting the race.
Yet when it comes to campaigning, Farnworth admits he’s anything but relaxed. And he doesn’t take his job — one that PoCo constituents have granted him for more than two decades — for granted.
At home, the PoCo secondary grad is often stopped on the street, in stores and around his northside neighbourhood to chat about local and B.C.-wide issues. One of the Legislature’s most experienced politicians, the 57-year-old NDP house leader also has respect from politicians and staff of every stripe.
But asked what specifically he has done for his riding over this past term, Farnworth is hard-pressed. He fought to change the timing of the light on the Mary Hill bypass — a provincial highway — and Broadway Street, to allow better traffic flow, he says. He fought for funding for school replacements and seismic upgrades, he notes. And he lobbied for the province’s share to update the Blakeburn lagoons, he adds toward the end of the interview at his campaign office in the former Elks Hall building.
Regionally, he has been a strong voice for Tri-City residents, he says, lobbying for public transit, environmental protection and the preservation of Riverview Hospital.
But most of his efforts are behind the scenes and focused on the well-being of the province. He claims voters are telling him it’s time for a change in government after four years of Christy Clark — a former Tri-City MLA — and they’re tired of increases to the cost of living.
• On homelessness, an issue that landed on Farnworth’s office doorstep last month when occupants of the nearby shelter were told to leave because temperatures had warmed above the emergency shelter threshold, Farnworth blames the BC Liberals for failing to address mental health and substance abuse. Riverview needs to return as a place of mental wellness, he says, and more beds are required to treat those struggling with addictions. Affordable and social housing have to be a priority as well while the minimum wage goes up to $15 an hour.
• In anticipation of federal changes to recreational marijuana use, Farnworth and fellow MLA Carole James travelled to Washington and Oregon last spring to study their models. Farnworth believes the legal age to purchase weed should be 19 — because “it doesn’t make any sense to have it different from alcohol” — and he doesn’t think B.C. should rush into a regulatory framework given the number of public health, enforcement and taxation issues that will arise when the drug is legalized federally next year.
• As for court delays, the NDP’s justice critic cited the Supreme Court of Canada’s advice to B.C. to shrink its legal processing times. His party “will make sure the sheriffs are properly funded” and there are a sufficient number of judges. “The government has waited and waited and waited to fill these seats but this government has only been about big spending and photo ops,” he says.
To contact Mike Farnworth, call 604-945-4455 or visit