Dix appointed Farnworth, known as one of the NDP's most able debaters and agitators, as the new Opposition finance critic. Farnworth takes over from Surrey New Democrat Bruce Ralston, who takes on international trade, immigration, multiculturalism and public accounts.
Dix said his new shadow cabinet includes veteran New Democrats and newcomers who will hold Premier Christy Clark and her Liberal government to account for their election promises and record. He said Clark’s government was elected on the claims of a balanced budget, reduced debt, increased core services and increased jobs and the NDP plans to make sure they live up to those claims.
Clark introduced her new 19-member cabinet last week. The legislature has been recalled for June 26 to allow the Liberals to introduce, debate and pass their budget, which was introduced last February but was not passed before the May 14 election.
Dix said Farnworth and the other shadow cabinet members will fully examine the budget, which the NDP labelled an $800 million deficit during the campaign, while the Liberals said it was a surplus of $197 million.
"Mike is going to do that job superbly," said Dix. "He's going to make the strong case around the budget, around the weaknesses in that budget. It's based on the selling of assets. It's based on both spending and revenue projections that we dispute."
Dix also appointed former NDP education critic Rob Austin as the Opposition's critic for the newly created natural gas ministry.
Austin, who represents northwest B.C.'s Skeena riding, will keep watch over the Liberal government's development plans for the natural gas and liquefied natural gas industries. He also will take on Liberal Rich Coleman, who is heading the natural gas portfolio.
"He'll watch to ensure the commitments made are followed through on in terms of the success of the jobs, and secondly, that benefits flow to the region, and to the north," Dix said. "Those are two key priorities that he'll have and we'll have."
Other shadow cabinet appointments include:
— Newly-elected New Westminster New Democrat Judy Darcy, the former Hospital Employees' Union president, taking on the health critic's post
— David Eby, who defeated Clark in Vancouver-Point Grey, becomes the advanced education critic
— Burnaby New Democrat Jane Shin, who was the focus of campaign scrutiny about her medical resume, takes on the post of deputy critic for small business, tourism, arts and culture.
Veteran Vancouver New Democrat Shane Simpson leaves his posts as caucus chairman and housing and social development critic to become the Opposition critic of the government's core review of government programs and spending.
Simpson also takes on critic duties for gaming, liquor modernization, BC Pavilion Corporation, and legislative accountability.
Veteran Victoria-area New Democrat John Horgan remains as Opposition house leader and energy critic.
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