BC NDP Environmental Leadership Debate

There’s still 2 weeks left in the BC NDP’s Leadership Race, but after watching the environmental debate yesterday, I think I’ve made up my mind. All 5 candidates were really impressive, and my opinion of each improved after watching them talk about environmental issues. I’m really happy to see the NDP focusing on the environment. They lost my vote last election because they abandoned the issue, but now seem to have realized their mistake. All five candidates had similar policy but brought different leadership qualities.

Mike Farnworth – most honest and thoughtful. I liked that he admitted the NDP made a huge mistake when they opposed the carbon tax. Seemed to have a good sense of what the party needed to do to connect with voters.
Dana Larsen – most activist and radical. He brought the most original ideas and delivered them with a no-nonsense, rabble rouser approach.
Nicholas Simons – most compassionate. He’s in politics because he truly wants to make a difference. Whenever he finished talking, you felt like giving him a hug.
Adrian Dix – most aggressive and knowledgeable. Was able to quote facts and figures off the top of his head. Really wants to go after Christy Clark and is itching for a fight.
John Horgan – most eloquent, funny, and personable. He won over the crowd with his charisma, but also had lots of great ideas.

It’s too bad the leader can’t be an amalgamation of all 5 candidates. If I could build a leadership robot, I’d put Dix as the brain because he had an encyclopedic knowledge of issues, and the fists because he’s a keen debater; Simons would be the heart because he brings so match compassion to every issue; Horgan would be the mouth because the has a great ability to weave a story and connect with a crowd; Farnworth would be the gut and intuition because he seemed to have a natural grasp of what matters to the party and the public; and Larsen would be the lungs because, all puns aside, he really is a breath of fresh air and energizes the party with new ideas.

That said, only one person can be leader. I think Simons would be eaten alive by the press. His soft style wouldn’t translate well in modern media. Larsen was the least political and most ideological. He has an important role to play influencing the policy of the party, but I don’t think he’s leadership material. Dix is a real fighter and a really smart debater. I think he’d do well against Christy Clark, but I’m not a fan of combative politics.

That leaves Mike Farnworth and John Horgan, my top picks for leader. Horgan offered the biggest difference in style from Dix. In his closing remarks, he made it clear his strategy is to win over voters by giving them a positive vision to vote for, not by telling them Christy Clark is evil. Farnworth was somewhere between Dix and Horgan in style. He doesn’t have Horgan’s ability to connect with a crowd, or Dix’s feisty debater nature, but he balanced attacking the Liberals with promoting a strong vision. He also impressed me with his honesty.

In the end, it was Horgan who most impressed me and he secured my top vote. He’s charismatic, a great public speaker, and he really understands public policy and can explain it to anyone. He was also less dogmatic in his beliefs then some of the candidates. He seemed best able to balance the environment with economic realities. The full debate is available online, so you can see for yourself.

My ranked ballot now looks like this (changed slightly from a few weeks ago):

  1. John Horgan
  2. Mike Farnworth
  3. Adrian Dix
  4. Dana Larsen
  5. Nicholas Simons

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