As the B.C. NDP leadership race heats up, candidate Mike Farnworth is calling on the provincial government to be upfront with details before signing on to a new 20-year RCMP contract.
The leadership hopeful said the public needs to know what the objectives of the new contract are regarding transparency and accountability and how complaints against RCMP are dealt with.
“The government should be upfront and say, ‘Here are the goals for improvements,’” Farnworth said, adding he’s confident a new contract will be signed between the province and RCMP.
The Port Coquitlam MLA believes the public wants a unified complaints process in the province, rather than the two systems currently in place for municipal forces and the RCMP.
He would also like to see municipalities have a greater voice with respect to the contract, noting local government covers most of the policing cost.
Cities with populations larger than 15,000 residents pay 90 per cent of RCMP costs.
Farnworth is the third NDP candidate to make it to Kamloops after previous visits by Adrian Dix and Harry Lali.
And, like Dix, who promises to unite the party after a bitter rift spurred the resignation of leader Carole James, Farnworth said he is already taking steps to repair the NDP and has no issue working with the entire caucus if elected leader.
“Party unity is important and, if we don’t have that, we won’t win the next election,” he said.
“I think all of us recognize that.”
Also seeking the party leadership are Dana Larsen and MLAs John Horgan and Nicholas Simons.
Much of the criticism leveled at James’ leadership included claims of a lack of vision and new ideas to counter the Liberals.
Farnworth said he is bringing new ideas to the table, including moving away from the top-down approach suggested by some as the way Premier Gordon Campbell and the Liberals ruled the province.
He said the government needs to recognize what’s been referred to as the rural/urban divide in the province.
Farnworth said as leader and premier, he would address the issue through a more aggressive rural economic-development strategy and a greater emphasis in nurturing the resource economy.
As for who he’d like to square off against in an election, Farnworth said it doesn’t matter — though he did take a swipe at B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark.
He said the former MLA had presided over some of the most “brutal cuts to public service the province has ever seen.”