03/02/2014 02:55 EST | Updated 05/02/2014 05:59 EDT

Mike Farnworth Enters B.C. NDP Leadership Race


PORT COQUITLAM, B.C. - The BC NDP's finance critic is the first to throw his hat in the ring for leadership of the party.

Mike Farnworth, who represents the riding of Port Coquitlam, said Sunday that with him in charge, New Democrats would take an tougher stance against the BC Liberals.

"That means fighting a hard, aggressive election campaign that will get our message accross," he said.

The provincial NDP's current leader, Adrian Dix, has faced criticism from analysts who say his approach in last year's election campaign was too soft.

The New Democrats went into the campaign with a 20-point lead in the polls, but lost in a massive upset against the incumbent Liberal government.

Farnworth said that resource development will be a priority for him, and that he will be open to pipeline and LNG projects so long as they pass rigorous environmental review processes.

"What we need to do is put forth an economic vision that says it's not just resource development or the environment," he said. "They are not mutually exclusive — it's both, both have to be together."

Up until Farnworth's announcement, the opposition party's leadership race has been marred with false starts.

At least seven other potential leadership candidates, including high-profile figures such as BC NDP house leader John Horgan, federal NDP MP Nathan Cullen and former union boss and Sierra Club director George Heyman have dropped out of the race before officially entering.

David Eby, who beat out Liberal Premier Christy Clark in her own riding of Point Grey, was also expected to be a major contender but pulled out last month citing the impending birth of his first child.

Party members will chose Dix's successor on Sept. 28.

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