Federal B.C. New Democrats gathered in Nanaimo Wednesday to kick off an all-day planning session in the city, as well as a tour of other parts of Vancouver Island. Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder played host to a group of 10 fellow New Democrats from the province, including Libby Davies, the NDP's deputy leader, and Fin Donnelly, the party's B.C. caucus chairman.
Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, was the only B.C. NDP representative not present.
The MPs spoke to reporters at a press event Wednesday afternoon.
They criticized Prime Minister Stephen Harper for proroguing Parliament until later this fall.
"This guy doesn't want to face (NDP Leader) Tom Mulcair every day in question period," said Davies, as her colleagues nodded in approval.
"If he refuses to call Parliament back, we're still going to hold him to account," she said.
Davies said the MPs should be sitting in the House of Commons; instead, she said, she and her colleagues would use the time to meet with various community groups in Port Alberni, Campbell River and elsewhere.
Davies said she and her colleagues would be listening to peoples' concerns on issues like health care and unemployment.
She also touched on the national Senate expense scandal in Ottawa.
The NDP is in favour of abolishing the upper chamber. A recent Forum poll had the NDP in third place at 22 per cent, compared to 29 per cent for the Conservatives and 38 per cent for Justin Trudeau's Liberals.
Tthat same poll showed the NDP in first place in B.C. with 37 per cent support, five points ahead of the Liberals.
Davies said strong numbers in B.C. are a good omen for both \Mulcair, a former cabinet minister from Quebec, and the NDP. "The potential for growth that he has, especially in B.C., is very, very good."
Crowder said newly-drawn electoral districts on Vancouver Island could also help the NDP pick up a few seats.
In the 2015 election, Nanaimo will be contained entirely within the new district of Nanaimo-Ladysmith. Crowder has not indicated whether she will run in the riding, but added that she hoped to make an announcement "very soon."
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