The five candidates for the provincial New Democratic Party leadership made a special stop in Hazelton last Tuesday and spent two hours taking questions and making their pitches to members of the audience at Hazelton Secondary School.
There were more than 50 of the 27,000 NDP party members in attendance, to ask the five potential leaders questions to help make their decision on April 17th.
Since last week, the race has gone from five to four with Nicholas Simons dropping out on Thursday and endorsing John Horgan.
That leaves Horgan, who is a former NDP chief of staff, and current Juan de Fuca MLA; former NDP government minister and Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth; Adrian Dix, who is another former chief of staff in the last NDP government and current Vancouver-Kingsway MLA; and Dana Larsen, who is passionate and well spoken, but is being labelled a marijuana activist by some media.
The main message last week was that regardless of who is chosen to lead the party, all the candidates say they will unite the party and will work diligently to get rid of the HST.
In fact, all the questions asked of the five were answered in similar fashion, with them all in agreement on how to handle current issues and making a better future for BC residents.
The question period started off with Hazelton Secondary School Social Justice group member Tait Chandler, who inquired about their views on bullying, particularly in the legislature. The five seemed pleasantly surprised by the in-depth question from the Grade 12 student. Some of the other questions asked of the candidates included how they feel about the dismantled logging industry in the north, and the copious amounts of wood being shipped off as whole logs. They were asked about the dire state of funding and the legal aid system, how they would deal with a struggling economy, higher taxes, B.C Hydro and the smaller power projects and many other inquires from local residents from Smithers, Telkwa and the Hazeltons.
After the question period, which was moderated by Neal Erickson, each member was given a few minutes to state their case for party leader. Following the discussions, the candidates mingled with members and continued to answer questions.
Local NDP MLA Doug Donaldson said he was very pleased the five made the unscheduled journey to the Hazeltons as it was the only unplanned trip on their 80 plus day tour.