Last week, we reported provincial New Democrats MLAs would be cuddling up with one another for an extended nose-stretching session at Dunsmuir Lodge and Conference Centre. Of course, the substance of those proceedings is supposed to be under lock and key. And those who remember the real-time leaking that occured during the Clark administration seem determined to ensure their (wind) pipes remain sealed. But, according to our tipsters, the most interesting discussion at the retreat was the one that didn't happen.
Astute Public Eye readers will recall, in a post-leadership convention interview with The Vancouver Sun's Jim Beatty, party grand poobah Carole James said "We have to modernize our relationship with labour." As part of that modernization push, a 10-member affiliation committee chaired by lawyer and former New Democrat president Ian Aikenhead has been studying the issue of union affiliation. And a resolution on that issue is expected at the party's upcoming convention.
But, even though convention is just three months away, affiliation was not talked about at the retreat. The official explanation is that Ms. James wants to wait till the aforementioned committee's final report, which will be presented at New Democrat provincial council meeting scheduled for September 16 and 17. But there may have been some concern this divisive issue wouldn't be an appropriate agenda item for a meeting where many MLAs would be getting to know one another for the first time.
A fair point, to be sure. But, if Ms. James wants a new relationship with labour, this discussion needs to occur sooner rather than later. Because the present lack of monmentum for de-affiliation is strengthening the hand of those council members who would prefer the status quo.