Powell River residents will be paying close attention to the BC NDP (New Democratic Party) leadership race, with MLA Nicholas Simons making a run for the top job.
Since he was elected in 2005 to represent Powell River-Sunshine Coast, Simons has remained popular with residents. His quick wit and ease being on stage serve him well at meetings and in debates. He responds to constituents’ concerns and issues and, while he is not in a position to affect change, his apparent willingness to help is appreciated by those who seek his assistance.
Simons has flown mostly under the provincial radar during his time in office. His profile rose during the dust-up that led to Carole James resigning as party leader. He was labelled a party dissident and maverick, one of 13 MLAs who forced James to resign.
At this point, who he will be running against is unclear. If Dana Larsen, former leader of the BC Marijuana Party and also well known to Powell River-Sunshine Coast constituents, stays in the race, it promises to be entertaining. Simons and Larsen matched wits in 2004 when they vied to be the NDP candidate for the riding, then called West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast, in the federal election. Simons won, lost in the election, then went on to become the NDP candidate in the provincial election in 2005.
Since he moved to Powell River in 2009, Simons has not shown a reluctance to become involved in local government issues. He has publicly opposed the City of Powell River’s initiative to co-treat liquid waste at the Catalyst Paper Corporation’s Powell River division.
During a leadership run, Simons will be notching up his public profile and will inevitably come under more scrutiny from outside the riding. His entry into the race will affect his political future, as he will inevitably be judged for his performance along with the ideas and issues he says he wants to discuss.
Instead of being on the sidelines, Powell River residents will be in the middle of the leadership race, which, along with the BC Liberal Party leadership race, promises to generate lots of wild and wacky fun, continuing BC’s political tradition.