Hey sister, go sister, soul sister

Winning an election is a little bit like buying a used car. Voters want to be reassured that what they see is what they're going to get. And, in this upcoming election, British Columbians want to be reassured provincial New Democrat Leader Carole James isn't hiding a labour-powered engine under her hood. But to do that, Ms. James needs to do more than just give warm fuzzy speeches to business groups. Ms. James needs to have a Sister Souljah moment.

That term dates back to the 1992 American presidential election. During that election, Democratic candidate Bill Clinton delivered a controversial speech to the Rainbow Coalition - a powerful special interest group representing the rights of working people, women and ethnic minorities. In it, he essentially called rapper Sister Souljah a racist for explaining the actions of Los Angeles rioters by saying: "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?"

Since then, having a Sister Souljah moment has become shorthand in political circles for taking a position that alienates allies (such as the Rainbow Coalition) so that a politician can prove his or her independence and capture centrist votes. And that's exactly what Ms. James should do if she delivers a speech to the British Columbia Federation of Labour convention in November.

She needs to make it absolutely clear the New Democrats aren't patsies for big labour by killing one of the movement's sacred cows on stage (and it has to be a really meaty one - not a calf). Because that's the only definitive way James, whose leadership campaign received 50 per cent of its funding from the labour movement, can prove she isn't a union puppet.

But she may not be able to do that. Public Eye has spoken with many people about Ms. James - her friends and colleagues - and come to the conclusion James is just not a confrontational person. She's a conciliator. That's not a bad thing. But being confrontational is what having a Sister Souljah moment is all about.

And her party doesn't seem to be in much of a confrontational mood, either. They may be moving in a centrist policy direction. But they're doing so on tippy-toes, trying desperately hard not to alienate their core lefty voters too much. That would be a smart idea if it weren't for the fact that those voters are probably so furious with the Liberals they would support the New Democrats even if the party started sacrificing small animals.

So Carole, here's Public Eye's advice: ignore your instincts. Give British Columbians what they want. Prove to them that you and your party aren't owned by anyone. Give big labour a big talking to. And put this issue to rest.

Credit where credit is due: A version of this article ran in today's Times Colonist.

4 Comments

"Voters want to be reassured that what they see is what they're going to get. And, in this upcoming election, British Columbians want to be reassured provincial New Democrat Leader Carole James isn't hiding a labour-powered engine under her hood."

Here's a newsflash. People in the labour movement also pay taxes, as opposed to the "business powered engine" funding the BC Liberals. I'm not talking about small to medium sized businesses, I'm talking about the Stolts, CN's, Sudexco's of the province who either receive kickbacks in the form of relaxed enforcement and forgiveness of fines of fish farm violations, or are sold assets of the people of British Columbia for a song, as in the BC Rail deal.

I would submit that the people of BC are sick to death of being BS'd by the Campbell Fiberals. The litany of broken promises and sell offs by Campbell and his neo con government, all the while lining the pockets of CanWorst Global with advertising money for full page ads and tv ads telling everyone how great BC is, when they promised not to do that with taxpayers money.

And the soft touch returned to the Campbell Fiberals by CanWorst Global by burying of bad news with the BC government and even going so far as to spiking several stories prior to the 2001 election, that very well could have affected the results of more than one riding. 3 separate stories about Carole James and the nomination races, Sean? What was it, a slow newsday? Why not spend some time covering the byelection in Surrey, and asking Mary Polak some introspective questions? She is after all, the Liberal CANDIDATE there, not a nominee.

A good example would be the BC Ferry purchase where the shipyard union protests that we should pay a lot more money/corporate welfare to buy new ferries. Carole could put the "fast ferry" blunder to rest and deliver a firm spanking to those old union boys who treat our tax dollars as their personal slush fund.

Pete

A far better example would be having German`s build our ferries while our people are unemployed. Those good old corporate boys treat our tax dollars as their personal slush fund. And we can`t even get any info on the Ferry corporation since the BC Fiberals had access through the freedom of information stopped. Now wasn`t that a pesky little law?

Hey Parkhurst,

You might try logging on to the BC Ferries website for some information on the ferry contract - there you might find some interesting information.

Did you know that those new boats have a money back guarantee if they do not perform to spec ? I wonder if we taxpayers could get our $ 450 million back from those Unions involved in the Fast Ferry project ?

The Unions and NDP keep telling us that thousands of jobs are involved - yet the Germans have a track record of building these boats on budget and on time with less than 700 people.

Instead of complaining and whinning, the Unions should figure out how to build a better boat, on time and on budget with similar workers and for less dollars - In other words they should learn how to make a competitve bid instead of expecting corporate welfare courtesy of the BC taxpayer. Why is this concept so difficult for Unions and the NDP to fathom ?

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