As Public Eye previously reported, provincial New Democrat MLAs have converged on Dunsmuir Lodge and Conference Centre for a three day navel-gazing exercise with Carole James. But before the group groping got underway, the fourth estate - many of whom have been idling in the press gallery, waiting for politicians to return for their summer holidays - were invited for a question and answer session with the party leader. The following are some of your humble organ's notes from that event.
* Not surprisingly, Ms. James was asked about the British Columbia Teachers' Federation’s decision to hold a strike vote in September made an appearance. And questions about the labour movement's spending on advertising during the election also made an appearance. But, not surprisingly, the party leader's responses to those inquiries were poured straight out of the New Democrat's message box: to wit, the government should "extend an olive branch" to teachers and limit third party advertising by corporations and unions.
* More interesting to members of the chattering class was this question from Broadcast News legislative correspondent Scott Sutherland: "Are you confident that (former Water, Land and Air Protection Minister) Bill Barisoff will make a good non-partisan speaker? Will you just let that (appointment) go pro forma?" Ms. James's response: "I expect so. I certainly worked with Mr. Barisoff when he was a school trustee. So I know him to be a reasonable person. And I think we'll be expecting he'll provide a fair opportunity for government and opposition in the legislature." Mr. Barisoff is known among some Rockpile residents as a bit of a black and white thinker.
* Our 24 hours colleague Erin Airton has wondered where Ms. James has been this summer. We're pleased to provide an answer to that question, in the leader's own words: "I spent three weeks up north and I spent two weeks traveling around (British Columbia's) camp grounds. I did what's called the northern circle route which takes you up to the Yukon border and over to the Alaska border up north." For those keeping count, that's five weeks of vacation.
* The foyer of the Dunsmuir Lodge features a sculpture entitled The Path to Enlightenment. Wags noted with some amusement that the sculpture, by Katherine Maltwood, didn't appear to have an end point. A message for the New Democrats perhaps?