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Monday, February 7, 2011

David Murray Provincial Politics with Mike Farnworth In Abbotsford Sunday Feb 6th 2011

David Murray, Provincial Politics

Provincial Politics: Mike Farnworth In Abbotsford Sunday

By David Murray. Early this morning at 9:00 am at the Legal Grounds Coffee House in Abbotsford on Essendene , Mike Farnworth conducted an interesting town hall meeting. He spoke to an enthusiastic group despite being early on a Sunday.
He spoke to the group of media and mainly NDP supporters about how the provincial government has to get back to helping “every day regular” British Columbian’s.
Ken Herar, Abbotsford/Mission Times Columnist with Mike Farnworth
He told us about his recent trip to the Northwest region of the province. How the rest of the province feels left out by the current government. He went on to say that people in these communities feel the Liberal’s have stop listening to their concerns. He went on to say the a lot of region’s in British Columbia feel a strong level of disconnect. He said that a lot of people feel left out in the cold as most of the focus from this government is generated towards the lower mainland.
Mike told the group a bit about his background.
“I was born in the United Kingdom and moved to Montreal when I was young. My family moved to Port Coquitlam in 1969. I was first elected to Port Coquitlam city council in 1983. I served 3 terms on council before being elected in 1991 and 1996 as an MLA for the Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain riding. I got involved with politics because of a decision the Social Credit government made In selling off Colony Farm. The area supplied a lot of produce to the community and had the best dairy breeding herd in the province. It stocked many dairy farms in B.C.
Abbotsford NDP members meet with Mike Farnworth Sunday
“I was a cabinet minister in the NDP government in the 1990′s , I have learned a lot since then. Just like the Liberal government lost touch in the last ten years, Our government did the same in the 1990′s. We had some wonderful successes but like I said I have seen first hand what happens when a government stops listening to the people. “In 2001 I was in the Balkins and Serbia and in 2004 I was in Iraq working on Democratic Government Reform. I was elected in 2005 and have been the House leader of the Provincial New Democratic Party since then,” said Farnworth.
One of the questions from the floor for Mike: All the other leaders have been asked what are they going to do to get their parties support? When this was asked of you, your reply was I want to get the support of ‘All British Columbians’.
Mike responded by saying “ You have to work with people, all political stripes, labour, business, seniors, students.” Mike went on to say “ Government does not have all the answers. They expect good public policies,” adding, “My way or the highway doesn’t work” our last government has shown us that.
Mike was asked about how the membership drive went? A pleased Farnworth with a smile said “The membership has more than doubled”. Pamela Willingshofer asked about the H.S.T. (Harper Sales Tax).
“We would have it decided by a referendum” Mike said. I would like to see the date moved up. Pamela asked another question. Carole James was reaching out to the business community. Do you plan to do the same? That is a great question Pamela. I will try and reach out not only to the business community, but to labour, students, seniors. “We are a party that will listen to what people have to say”. We want to be the government for all of British Columbia and all British Columbian’s.”
NDP Leadership Candidate Mike Farnworth meets members of the Abbotsford NDP
Jack Brown from Langley asked: “The Fraser Valley has always been an after thought for the government because they have never had to work hard to win the seats here. Does the path to victory lie in the Fraser Valley?” “Again Jack, I am glad you asked that question. “I am convinced we will win a number of seats in the Fraser Valley in the next provincial election,” said Farnworth.
“This side of the Fraser Valley is going through the same demographic changes Port Coquitlam did a couple of decades ago and the same changes that Pitt Meadows , Maple Ridge and Mission have experienced more recently. That is that the housing is more affordable for young families. Hence you see a lot of people that supported our party moving farther and farther into the upper valley to supply affordable housing for their families.”
Another question that arose was about education: “What do you feel are the problems with the education system Mike? Mike explained “Some of the biggest problems currently with our education system is chronic underfunding and class size. We need to start getting involved and helping kids , not just k-12 but pre school all the way up to adult education.”
Betty Carlson Hoffman went on to tell Mike, “ You can’t make change unless you get involved” Meaning that every single person counts!”
“You are right Betty,” Mike went on to say. “Every person counts, every vote counts, we lost the riding of Maple Ridge- Mission by 65 votes. We have to do a better job of engaging with people. We need to talk about the issues that matter most to people and will get them excited enough to come to the polls to support the NDP.
“We really have to help our students,” said Farnworth. “Even the banks give a better interest rate to students than the government . We simply can’t be making money on our kids. “They are the future!”. We have to make sure students graduate with less debt! In Newfoundland they have “interest free” student loans. That is a possibility in B.C.”
Bob Douglas , who has been a member of the CCF-NDP since 1941 told Mike that back in 1950 the Saskatchewan government forgave one half of all student loans. Mike went on to tell Mr. Douglas, “There is no reason our government can’t look at doing something like that”.
Abbotsford NDP members listen to Mike Farnworth at Legal Grounds Sunday
Moe Gidda , the president of the Abbotsford NDP asked Mike what the NDP will do to improve the hospital situation in Abbotsford, having to go to Mission for certain services etc? Moe , I will tell you that the NDP will invest in communites everywhere in the province. Some emergency wards have been closed down and people have to drive hundreds of miles to get these services. “That is unacceptable” said Farnworth. Ken Herar from the Abbotsford -Mission Times asked Mike: “There is starting to be a problem with the next generation of ‘New Canadians’. They are being encouraged to stay in their own clubs, sports teams, groups. This is leading and will lead to future problems as more communities become more segregated , which only induces tensions?”
“Thanks for asking that question Ken” said Mike. “The NDP want to make more and more strides in having communities become more inclusive. I think that has to start with school and education. I was recently in Alberta for example , I was at a Chinese restaurant, hardly anyone in the restaurant knew how to use chopsticks. Most kids in the lower mainland have used chopsticks from a very early age. Exposure to other cultures is very important. It leads to a more well-rounded society which is more understanding and cohesive.”
Farnworth went on to speak about the ALR and how this was one of the great legacies of the Barrett government. “We need to have more enforcement of the rules of the ALR” he said. Currently we only have two people checking and enforcing these rules in the entire province. I will make sure that this area will have more funding and accountability. We need to do this to support the next generation of farmers in this province!
“The Liberals said they were going to create 5,000 long term care beds, what they have done is added some assisted living, this is not long term care. Seniors need programs to keep them in their homes , happier and longer. We need to bring back programs cut by the Liberals where people would go and get groceries for shut-in seniors, this also proved an important check in schedule for people to make sure they were doing OK.
“One of the biggest investment’s our party will do is put more focus on preventive care.
Last question for Farnworth:. “What will the NDP do to get and keep doctor’s in small communities? I live in Ashcroft and our Emergency is open only two days a week?”
“We need to train more doctors, that’s for sure. Also we have to start respecting doctor’s foreign credentials. A lot of doctor’s from other countries may love to move to a great community like Ashcroft , where they don’t get as much rain as the lower mainland and would find Ashcroft to be a great place to raise his or her family.”
Farnworth ended by saying, “I want to thank you all for coming today and I look forward to seeing a lot of you next Saturday Feb 12th 5:30 pm at your Federal Abbotsford NDP fundraiser at the Langley Steelworkers Hall . I hope to be able to talk to you more that evening!”

David Murray
David Murray is the Federal NDP candidate for Abbotsford. He is the political columnist for the Today. He can be reached at His website can be found on twitter @ davidmurray4ndp

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