The New Democratic Party may have lost the Skeena riding in the May provincial election and may not have any seats in northern B.C. outside of the North Coast and Stikine ridings but it is positioning itself as a broad-based governing party, says veteran party member Rob Goffinet.
Speaking following the party’s annual convention in Victoria, Goffinet said the message was delivered by Premier John Horgan, both at the convention and demonstrated by his visit to Kitimat in early October.
“It was not a matter of policy as such but a realization there are responsibilities by being in government,” said Goffinet who represents the NDP’s constituency association on the party’s provincial council, the body that sets broader party objectives.
“There’s the realization now that the buck stops here.”
Horgan, a senior government staffer the last time the New Democratic Party was in power from 2991 to 2001, is well-suited to understanding rural and northern B.C. by putting together benefits agreements for the northeast and in the Kootenays region, Goffinet noted.
While the premier’s Kitimat visit in October was to acknowledge Rio Tinto’s first year of operations at its newly-modernized smelter, Horgan was also accompanied by energy minister Michelle Mungall who met with LNG project proponents.
“The party may have its [electoral] strength in the Lower Mainland but the premier is very conscious and has a good handle on the issues for all of us who live further way from the Lower Mainland,” he said.
“He’s demonstrating this by building a coalition of people that will ‘expand the tent’,” Goffinet added of the new government’s approach to build support.
Goffinet was one of the seven-member Skeena New Democratic delegation attending the convention, a group he described as optimistic and forward-looking.
“I’m seeing an appeal to the new generation, a lack of partisanship,” said Goffinet.
That three of the four candidates who ran for the Skeena New Democratic nomination for the May provincial election – Sarah Zimmerman, Michael Prevost and Nicole Halbauer – were on the delegation was also not lost on Goffinet.
“To see those younger people was just a beautiful feeling,” said Goffinet.
The presence of Cedrik Verreault, a youth from Kitimat, and Kim Hansen from the Nass Valley, further solidified the New Democratic commitment to expanding its base in the Skeena riding, he continued.
“After being handed a defeat, it refocuses you, causes you to expand and to contemplate and to be proactive, knowing that your time may well come again,” Goffinet said of losing the Skeena riding it held for 12 years to BC Liberal Ellis Ross.
Prior to the convention, Skeena New Democrats chose their executive for the coming year.
In addition to Goffinet being the representative on the party’s governing provincial council, Nicole Halbauer from Terrace is the president of the constituency association, Michael Prevost from Terrace is the vice president, Denis Gagne from Terrace is the recording secretary.
Gary Tupper from Terrace is in charge of membership, Darryl Whiteman from Terrace is the treasurer and financial agent, Karen Jonkman from Kitimat is the women’s rights committee representative.
Cedrik Verrault from Kitimat is the Young New Democrat representative and media coordinator while Ray Raj from Kitimat, Cheryl Brown from Kitimat and Linda Morven and Kim Hansen from the Nass Valley are members at large.
This story has been changed from the original posting to correct wrong information.