FORSETH – Lali’s nomination sets up tight race in Fraser-Nicola

Former MLA and new NDP candidate Harry Lali.

HARRY LALI, the former BC Transportation and Highways Minister, has been nominated B.C. NDP candidate for the riding of Fraser-Nicola, in this May’s provincial general election. The vote to elect him was held Saturday (March 18) at the Merritt Civic Centre, where he defeated Lower Nicola Band chief Aaron Sam.

Previously elected four times as an MLA, Lali remains the longest-serving South Asian member in any Canadian provincial legislature or federal parliament.

Lali was elected MLA for the riding of Yale-Lillooet in 1991 and 1996, including a role as the Minister of Transportation and Highways from 1998 to 2001.

The following election, he choose not to run, however he returned to Victoria in 2005 for the Yale Lillooet riding, and was re-elected again in the 2009 election in the new riding of Fraser Nicola. Lali was not so lucky next time out as he was defeated by the Cache Creek Liberal candidate Jacki Tegart.

Some will also recall that Lali did not win any friends, with those at the top of the NDP, following a caucus revolt in 2010, which he was part of.

That revolt led to the downfall of then-NDP leader Carole James. Lali actually announced he would be running to be leader of the opposition, but backed out a month later, citing a lack of funds to be able to mount a campaign.

That may also be a reason why the “Welcome” mat was NOT out when he declared his intention to again seek the Fraser Nicola nomination for the NDP, so much so that NDP leader John Horgan made it abundantly clear the four-time MLA was not welcome. This was muted however, by Horgan saying he (Lali) was not the ‘preferred nominee’ for Fraser-Nicola.

Horgan likely had to choke on these words (few as they were), that he would have been required to say, following Lali’s win today: “Harry Lali has a long record of standing up for people and communities in B.C.’s interior. It’s time for a government that works for everyone all across B.C.”

As for Lali himself, he seems to know how he’s going to win the campaign against current B.C. Liberal MLA Jacki Tegart — he’s going on the attack against her and Christy Clark.

“Christy Clark has ignored the industries that our communities depend on,” said Lali. “While her rich friends enjoy billions in tax breaks, people here are paying the price. Just ask the 250 Tolko sawmill employees who lost their jobs in Merritt.”

Lali stated, “Since becoming premier, Christy Clark has increased your MSP premiums, ICBC and BC Hydro rates, and raised tuition fees for your kids. Christy Clark has not been working for you, and the Liberal MLA has also been missing in action for four years. An MLA’s job is to fight for constituents and community issues.”

“Here in Fraser-Nicola, working people and their families deserve a government that is making things better, not harder. That’s why I’m standing with John Horgan and the NDP – to make our BC better.”

With Lali’s win, the race is now official on to see who wins after votes are cast on May 9. My prediction? Lali by under 100 votes.

In Kamloops, I’m Alan Forseth.

Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident and former member of the Reform Party of Canada, the B.C. Reform Party and the B.C. Conservative Party. His blog is My Thoughts on Politics and More.

About Mel Rothenburger (7951 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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