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NDP Candidates left to right; Adrian Dix, Nicholas Simons, Mike Farnsworth, John Horgan and Dana Larson.
REPORTING · 7th April 2011
Merv Ritchie
Adrian Dix had to admit last night, April 6, at the Terrace Best Western Hotel Conference room, that for the first time in his political career he didn’t have an answer. During the 'questions from the audience' session of the NDP leadership debate the room became hushed and murmurs of disappointment of such a question being asked was palpable.

“I’ll give you an answer that my colleagues have not heard during my six years as an MLA,” stated Dix, and he hesitated before he turned and said, “I don’t know.”

He was the first candidate standing to face the question;

“Why is the local hot springs resource being squandered?”

The room burst out into relieved laughter at Dix's response, as the question was such a local issue it wasn’t something anyone believed one of these candidates could even be aware of. Dix promised though to provide an “outstanding answer" after he understood what it was all about.

It was a display of speaking openly and forthright; a refreshing change from the canned campaign rhetoric heard for decades from political candidates and leaders. The NDP leadership hopefuls were all entertaining. The laughter, poking and prodding between each of the five men under the spotlight, kept the room at attention.

John Horgan actually knew about the hot springs. He didn’t, however, get to share his knowledge until both Nicholas Simons and Mike Farnworth took a stab at the question; Simons without having a clue even where the hot springs were and Farnsworth not knowing what the issue was.

“I'll be standing behind Adrian”, began Simons, “shortly after he gives the outstanding answer, I’ll give an alternative answer! "

“John say’s he’s got an idea what this is so I’m really looking forward to what he’s going to say,” Farnworth said to another outburst of laughter from the room.

He did know a bit about the hotsprings though, and shared the impression he got after traveling past the hot springs on his way to Kitimat with MLA Robin Austin.

“And I saw it, and I go, ‘that doesn’t look like a hot springs to me’ it was this nightmare out of a bad Flintstones cartoon.” The room again was filled with laughter.

Farnsworth added “You’ve got a hot springs! How many places in this Province have got a hot springs? Like that should be the focal point of tourism marketing in this area, people love those things.”

The room was still chuckling when Horgan got up and stated “I’m still reeling at Adrian not having an answer.” When the room settled a bit he delivered the facts on the hot springs.

“The nub of the issue is there was a transfer of a public asset to private hands with a commitment as I understand it by the private buyer to keep it open and now we can’t find the contract,” he interrupted himself as he turned to face three of Terrace’s City councillors, Brian Downie, Carol Leclerc and Bruce Bidgood, “I’m looking at the Councillors; and now we can’t find the documents, Robin and I were talking about that today. So that strikes me as a failure, at some point, of the administrative process that needs to be addressed.” Councillor Leclerc got up and left the room while he was describing this situation.

Horgan took the opportunity to demonstrate how this was a symptom of the Liberals, taking a public asset and transferring it into private hands. He stated he wasn’t blaming the Liberals for the specific hot springs dilemma, but it was a systemic problem right across the province; “Public wealth being transferred into private hands.”

Dana Larson took the microphone and began, “I’m glad I got to go last on this one, I got to hear what everyone else had to say.” to more laughter from the crowd of over 100 gathered residents. “Obviously I’m not an expert on the issue of the local hot springs.”

He echoed the statements made by Horgan, the issue of transferring public wealth into private hands.

“It’s not just in our hot springs, it’s our forestry, it’s our rivers are being handed over; it’s so much of our province, our common wealth being given over to private interests that are not interested in the long term of our communities, not interested in building our province or creating something, our future generations, or any of that. They’re interested in getting in and getting out and leaving us with a mess to clean up and that is something we need to put a stop to; and with an NDP government in power that represents the people of this province and not the corporate elite.”

Larson is the candidate who frequently gets lampooned in the mainstream press for his stance on marihuana. Christy Clark even attempted to ridicule the NDP by stating she hoped the NDP elected Cheech and Chong as their leader. Larson however was clear and addressed all the issues with as much knowledge as all the others and offered some refreshing alternatives to solving some serious social issues. He was clear about how the liberals, who he called “Neo-conservatives”, would rather put the citizens in jail than deal with the real problems facing society.

The entire panel of leadership candidates were as entertaining as they were confident. Unlike some political figures none of these men droned on with political mind numbing jargon that had people wanting to leave the room. The laughter went on all evening. As Horgan referred to it in his closing remarks, we were witness to a “love in” but added the long campaign tour united them all and no matter who is selected as leader, he would be proud to work with everyone of them.

There is obviously much more to write; Simons delivered a great analogy of a Party leader being like an orchestra conductor, he doesn’t need to know how to play all the instruments, just needs to know when and how to employ the musician.

All of the debate can be watch by opening the attachments below. We have divided it into three parts. First the opening remarks followed by the closing remarks of each candidate. The second is the extremely entertaining questions from the audience. The third video attached below is the prepared questions.

This forum was the last of 9 across the Province and the featured discussion was on Jobs and the economy. This is a worthwhile watch.
The form residents filled out to ask questions.  It was just such a form that had the Hotsprings question waiting to be drawn.
The form residents filled out to ask questions. It was just such a form that had the Hotsprings question waiting to be drawn.
Hotsprings & Ski Hill
Comment by Don Bruce on 9th April 2011
Imagine the numbers of people that would delight in a stay at a luxurious hotsprings resort hotel while skiing in the powder of Shames Mt.. Any readers interested in discussing the aspects of this spectre are invited to contact me.
Great Turn Out
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 8th April 2011
It was a very good turn out, I was so impressed. I appreciated the city councillors who came out to hear and see, even though publicly we know their position is decidedly NOT NDP. It was nice that they were willing to come and here.

The candidates were so entertaining yet full of substance, great ideas and historical reminders of all the benefits that have come.

It was a great crowd, good representation and I'm really glad the potential leaders came to Terrace and got to spend some time in our home community to see what we make all the fuss about! :) It's amazing, we deserve to fuss.
hot springs
Comment by les watmough on 7th April 2011
The council members of the City of Terrace have no knowledge of the history of the Springs, because they were never in the negotiations that determind the transfer of the Springs. They were then, as they are now, representatives of the City of Terrace. The Regional District, love them or hate them, have the jurisdiction outside the City, ask me sometime.

I clearly remember the discussions that led up to the transfer of that property. It was a conference call to the Lands Branch. On this end they were; Vic Joliffe, Ray Brady, myself, I think Bob Cooper and Alice Maitland.

The only ones left are Myself and Ray Brady, and of course the ever lasting Alice. But no one ever asks us.

If you want the documents they are in Victoria, the deal was signed by the Vander Zalm Government and Mt Layton Hotsprings.

Knowing the principles; that contract may be worthless .

Les Watmough.