Could B.C. Have Two Leadership Conventions in 2011?
Oh, British Columbia. Where do I begin? First you force yet another sitting premier from office. Yes, he did implement that dreaded HST, so perhaps I can see your logic. Now with the polls showing NDP fortunes improving, you once again nearly drive out a sitting leader. What is going on?
NDP leader Carole James had to deal with a mess this past weekend, as much of her caucus began to revolt against her leadership. It all began with James’ decision to expel MLA Bob Simpson from caucus. Simpson raised doubts about James’ leadership and since then several other caucus members have followed suit. In an effort to put an end to the infighting, James called for a vote by the party’s provincial council on whether a leadership review should be held this coming year.
James survived the vote and used it an an unequivocal endorsement of her leadership. In the vote, 97 supported leaving the review when it was, while 18 wanted one right away. In a passionate speech beforehand, James noted that the party needs to be battling the Campbell Liberals, not each other right now. With this mess behind her, she called for unity, asking all New Democrats to work together for the ultimate cause of winning the May 2013 election. The problem is, she is unlikely to get full support, even after this decision. There were many unhappy faces present at the weekend’s meeting in Victoria and some refused to stand for James or wear yellow scarves in support of the NDP.
The leadership of Carole James has always been rocky. She seems to be loved or hated within her party and the general population. Now that it appears the party could be on the verge of forming the next government, I can understand the desire of some to dump James in favour of a better suited candidate. But this is not the way to do it. James herself will likely not step aside very easily. She is on the verge of becoming only the third woman to be premier of a Canadian province, if the NDP wins in 2013. She likely recognizes the significance of that.
The unfortunate reality for the party is that this is doing nothing but helping the Liberal cause. Polls are already showing a rebound in Liberal fortunes. A complete self destruction would be sad to see, but would be the fault of the party itself. It just makes me shake my head to see a party which looks to have a bright future, potentially squandering it all away with petty arguments. Unite or leave, that is my opinion. So far that seems to be the stand James is taking, but it is seeing mixed results.
So it appears that James has survived… for now. The reality for British Columbians, is that they could have just about ANYBODY as their premier by 2013. But I suppose that is a feeling they are very comfortable with by now.
Just a side note: The Liberal party has its first declared candidate to replace Campbell. Regional Economic and Skills Development Minister Moira Stilwell has indicated she will be running for the job. Thus far she is the only contender.