A candidate for president of the provincial NDP wants to reverse the trend of declining representation by the party outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
Craig Keating is running to replace current leader Moe Sihota, who is stepping down. He came to Kamloops Friday to meet with party members.
“I’m here pretty much to better connect with members,” said Keating, thus far the only New Democrat seeking the position.
“I want to run a campaign for president like I want to see the party develop — going out and serving members.”
Keating acknowledges he and other New Democrats were devastated by May’s election loss when polls predicted they would form the next government.
The NDP won only six ridings outside the Island and Lower Mainland.
Keating, a college instructor, lost out in North Vancouver to Liberal rival Naomi Yanamoto, despite outspending her by $30,000.
Keating attributes some of his loss to what he said is an outdated NDP data system that needs to be dragged into today’s technology.
That involves more use of research and polling to understand where the party’s message connects best with voters, “so we’re not sending them (candidates) to a door that gets slammed in their face.”
In the Kamloops ridings, the party was humbled by the governing Liberals.
It was in here that leader Adrian Dix infamously changed party policy on the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to oppose the project.
“I think the damage was the sudden change of policy that played into the Liberal message that you can’t trust the NDP,” Keating acknowledged.
But he said the party must get the message that voters don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and protecting the environment.
The party’s convention to choose a new executive is set for Nov. 15-17 in Vancouver.