Although they’ve been squiring NDP leadership prospects around the riding this month, neither the sitting nor former Nelson-Creston MLA have decided who to endorse for the party’s leadership.
Michelle Mungall, who escorted Adrian Dix during his recent visit, says she will wait until more candidates have toured the area.
Corky Evans joined Mike Farnworth on tour this week and hopes to be around when John Horgan arrives today, but is not officially backing anyone.
“I really am a big fan of leadership races,” he says. “The wonderful thing is you get folks out seeing what British Columbia looks like and meeting people. Too commonly, public life is an isolating experience rather than an open one.”
Evans says such contests also allow and encourage people to state visions for their party and the province when they might not otherwise be able to.
He is “anxiously awaiting” the NDP leadership debates — which include a stop in Nelson on March 24 — to hear the candidates’ platforms and their answers to questions.
“I think most people will make up their minds when they actually get to see these folks,” he says. Evans adds Adrian Dix is the only candidate he hasn’t heard from — and he wasn’t even aware of his recent visit to the riding.
“I was quite disappointed by his handling of the sign-up campaign and I said so, so maybe that’s why,” says Evans.
Dix’s campaign created controversy when his workers arrived at party headquarters just before the cut-off for new memberships with thousands of forms and bags of money, even though individuals are supposed to pay their own fees.
Based on his experience running against Ujjal Dosanjh, who signed up scores of Indo-Canadians as NDP members en route to being named premier, “I hoped the party was past all that and Adrian would say ‘Oh well, in the interest of fairness, I’ll advise these folks we’ll have to sort out their memberships and they can be New Democrats, but they’ll be too late for this race.’
“He didn’t and I thought that was odd and unfortunate.”
Evans says he finds it “distasteful” when people who don’t have a party’s best interest at heart are encouraged to become members — especially when someone else pays.
Nelson city councillor Donna Macdonald, a past member of the local NDP executive, says she’s also still considering her choice for leader.
“I am still undecided,” she says. “I honestly have had my head down in the city budget.”
Mayor John Dooley gives an edge to Mike Farnworth, who visited the city this week, if only because he hasn’t met the other candidates and doesn’t know much about them. He also paid tribute to the party’s former leader.
“Over the years I got to know Carole James really well, and I thought she was just a wonderful person,” Dooley says. “I really believe had she been able to stay in there, she had a good chance of being the next premier. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
Besides Dix, Farnworth, and Hogan, the other candidates are Dana Larsen and Nicholas Simons. The leader will be chosen April 17.