Harcourt weighs in on NDP leadership race

As NDP members started voting in advance polls Monday, former Premier Mike Harcourt joined other elder statesmen of the B.C. NDP in declaring his choice for the next leader.

Harcourt made a rare political appearance in Vancouver Monday morning to endorse Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth.

“There are three major candidates running, all good people, any one of whom would make a fine premier,” Harcourt said in a statement released from his Pender Island home. “However, I believe that Mike Farnworth would give the BC NDP the best chance of winning the next election.”

Leadership rival and Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan also added to his endorsement list Monday, as Vancouver-Hastings MLA Shane Simpson became the 10th current MLA supporting him. Simpson said he waited until late in the contest because he is the NDP caucus chair and he wanted to make sure the group was working together after the split that developed over former leader Carole James.

Horgan shrugged off the Harcourt endorsement, saying he spoke to the former premier twice and was told both times Harcourt was staying out of the contest. The endorsement of current MLAs is more significant than the support of “a guy who’s been out of politics for 15 years,” Horgan said.

The selection will be the first one-member, one-vote selection of a leader in the B.C. NDP’s history. About 25,000 party members have the option of voting by phone or website this week, or waiting until Sunday. Unlike the recent vote to select B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark, the NDP event allows for live rounds of voting. If advance votes on a preferential ballot don’t determine a winner, the bottom candidate will be dropped from the ballot and members will vote again until a winner is declared Sunday evening.