Harry Lali has won the nomination as the NDP party’s candidate in Fraser-Nicola for the May 9, 2017 provincial election.
The four-time MLA and former Minister of Transportation claimed the victory over Lower Nicola Band Chief Aaron Sam, who had also thrown his hat into the ring for the NDP nomination, at a meeting on March 18. During the 2013 provincial election, Lali was defeated by current Liberal incumbent Jackie Tegart by 618 votes.
“I’d like to thank Aaron Sam, who did a fantastic job,” says Lali. “It was a good exercise in democracy. He worked really hard; congratulations for putting his name in there. But the people decided who they wanted.”
Lali will be up against Tegart, who was the first Liberal nomination for this year’s election, and Green Party candidate Arthur Green. Lali and veteran MLA Mike Farnworth are the only two NDP candidates in this election who have cabinet experience.
With less than eight weeks to go before the election, Lali will be setting up campaign offices throughout the riding. “I have offices located for Ashcroft and Merritt, and am looking for a location in Hope.” And while he has already been in campaign mode for a few months (Lali announced that he was seeking the NDP nomination in May 2016), he says he now has to step it up.
Lali says he received a text from NDP leader John Horgan, congratulating him on the victory and welcoming him back into the fold along with 84 other NDP candidates around the province. Horgan, who confirmed in January that he asked Lali to step aside in favour of Sam, said in an official statement on March 18 that “Harry Lali has a long record of standing up for people and communities in BC’s interior. It’s time for a government that works for everyone all across B.C.”
Jackie Tegart also released a statement in which she congratulated Lali on his nomination, adding “I’m looking forward to a strong, respectful campaign that focuses on the needs and priorities of Fraser-Nicola families and rural communities.” Lali says that he, too, is looking for a strong and respectful campaign.
“Sometimes supporters get a little excited. I quite like Jackie; I’ve known her for 30 years. We have a respectful and cordial relationship that will always be there, and won’t go away.”
In 2013, Lali blamed then-NDP leader Adrian Dix’s U-turn on pipelines during the election campaign—going from supporting them to being against them—for the loss of Fraser-Nicola. When asked about the party’s current stance, which has hardened since then, and his own previous support of pipelines, Lali admits that it is a divisive issue.
“People in rural areas want it, and people in urban areas don’t. That will always be there. We’d get some jobs from the pipeline, but those are short-term jobs. Long-term jobs are needed, in transportation, in the forest industry, in value-added industries. These are good-paying, family-supporting jobs. Public infrastructure needs to be built and kept open: roads, schools, hospitals.
“And the Liberals have completely abrogated their responsibility [for the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline] to the federal government. There’s no ‘Made in B.C.’ environmental responsibility.”
When asked how he feels about being back in an election campaign, Lali replies “Nothing excites me as much as public campaigning. I like debates, door-knocking, meeting people. I’m looking forward to that. It’s all part of the democratic process. But I think I need to buy a new pair of shoes.”