Perhaps the problem is a provision in their union contract?

Right now it's armpit-dripping hot outside. But despite the rising temperature, a lot of British Columbians are still working for the weekend. Meanwhile, though, your elected Opposition members seem to have taken a vacation from holding the government to account. Of course, the governing provincial Liberals aren't doing much these days either. But after four years of sweating to get the economy in order/picking on the poor and most vulnerable (your pick), you'd expect them to take (and even deserve) a break. But what's the New Democrat's excuse? Aside from Jenny Kwan and Jagrup Brar, their caucus is made up of members who were elected a scant two months ago. And yet party leader Carole James told them all to relax this summer. What kind of employer hires you and then immediately tells you to relax?

Public Eye doesn't want to be too hard on the New Democrats. They do have a Long March ahead of them - four years in Opposition. And many are working behind the scenes to setup their constituency offices and hire staff.

Still, exhausted Liberals are astounded and relieved the New Democrats are staying quiet at a time when a fart from the Opposition could make front page news. The papers are so dry for stories right now the slightest spark could set them ablaze. Yet many Opposition MLAs don't seem interested in putting flint to tinder.

Of course, there some exceptions to that rule: take Adrian Dix, for example. With a closet that includes skeletons dating back to the past New Democrat government, Public Eye once wondered what Ms. James would do with him. But now your humble organ wonders what Ms. James would do without him.

Since being sworn in, Mr. Dix has proven himself a dogged public servant - holding the government account for all manner of indiscretions in the ministry of children and family development. And others, such as Bob Simpson from the Cariboo, have been equally energetic about getting down to doing the people's business.

Nevertheless, taken as a whole, the New Democrats don't seem nearly as enthusiastic as Gordon Campbell did when he won government in 2001 and embarked on a 90-day program of summertime action.

So will there be any price for Ms. James's decision to give her caucus mates time to seek tan lines instead of headlines? Perhaps. In the two months before the recent election, the New Democrats went to ground - putting the Liberals in charge of the news cycle. The Campbell administration made campaign announcement after campaign announcement and Ms. James said almost nothing.

That, many insiders say, may have cost her the premiership. And by keeping mum now, the New Democrats are giving the Liberals a chance to regroup in time for the fall legislative session.

A version of this column was originally published in yesterday's edition of 24 hours.

2 Comments

Great artcile Sean. I have been very frustrated with my NDP, Mike Farnworth. He has not even setup an office phone number yet, let alone get a physical location, and is nowhere to be found - not in the press, not in the papers, not at events, not even in the riding.

It's too bad that a party who promised to be more accountable than the Liberals, has almost an entire Caucus that is more invisible than even the worst Liberal MLA.

The lack of responsiveness to groups the NDP professes to care about, and then their 'here we are and now we're gone' appearances were part of the rationale for the formation of the FemINist INitiative of BC. Had the NDP walked the talk, they might not be facing the spectre of a new political party with serious election potential in 2009.

Chrystal Ocean, Co-Leader
FemINist INitiative of BC
http://www.feministinitiative.bc.ca/

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