The "I" in team

Michael Sather says his temporary suspension from the New Democrat caucus will "factor in" when he thinks about running for re-election. In an interview with Public Eye over the weekend, the first-term MLA - who was suspended after refusing support the Tsawassen First Nation Treaty in the legislature - also questioned New Democrat leader Carole James's decision to not allow a free vote on the issue.

"I think she got worried about the media perception of her about being indecisive or changing her mind. So she thought that she was going to be showing herself to be strong on this issue. But the problem is we're putting all our eggs in the treaty basket and no eggs in the ALR basket. And that doesn't work for this party," said Mr. Sather.

And he also raised concerns about the notion of caucus solidarity. "I understand fully the reasons for caucus solidarity," he stated. "Obviously, if the caucus is singing two different tunes you do leave yourself open to criticism by the media. On the other hand, I'm thinking that the people at large - our population, our citizenry - is getting fed up with the lack openness in politics in general. And certainly one of the strongest things I heard from people (before being suspended) was, 'Good for you Michael for standing up for the ALR. That's important.'"

"But, even more sigificantly, they believe by not having a free vote that it's undemocratic. So they don't understand or perhaps subscribe to the belief that everyone has to vote in a monolithic fashion. So I think that's something for politicians to take note of. You know, if you notice with the climate change issue, politicians were behind the public all over the place. And maybe they're behind the public too when it comes to openness and democracy in our political system."

That being said, Mr. Sather doesn't hold out much hope for change. "I never say impossible. But I'm certainly not holding my breath for it to happen that's for sure. It's an ingrained system. And it really is difficult to operate in another fashion. But a lot of things are difficult. Challenging global warming is difficult. But we have to come to terms with some of these issues. And I think the political system needs to be improved markedly."

15 Comments

I believe James is simply trying to shore up support among aboriginals. But how much of a constituency do First Nations represent? I suspect supporting the ALR could have brought the party more support from the general public (and some of B.C.'s aboriginal population).

So here we are, almost two years away from an election, and the opposition party continues to point its compass to the south. Yikes.

I again predict the NDP will foolishly allow James to lead the party into the next election, which they shall lose badly.

Carole James' leadership is under attack and she's trying to prove she's tough by taking out Sather. The NDP will lose seats with James, and the Green Party will gain votes at NDP expense. As for Sather, he'd make a great Green MLA and may not return to the NDP.

What it really suggests is that the NDP considers Sather expendable; after all how else can you explain no action being taken against either Guy Gentner or Corky Evans who have also publicly spoken out against Carole James on this issue.

At least Sather has the courage to stick to his guns and has not flip flopped on his stance like his leader typically does. I wonder if any other NDP MLA’s will have the guts to stand up or will they take the cowardly way out and not be in the house on voting day.

"I again predict the NDP will foolishly allow James to lead the party into the next election, which they shall lose badly."

I predict James will quit out of exasperation early next year, and one of the Glen-Clark-era luminaries like Dix, Evans or Farnsworth will lead the NDP into the next election, which they shall lose badly.

"But, even more sigificantly, they believe by not having a free vote that it's undemocratic. So they don't understand or perhaps subscribe to the belief that everyone has to vote in a monolithic fashion. So I think that's something for politicians to take note of."

This is really the issue behind the issue for the NDP in at least two respects. First, even thirty years ago former Federal NDP Leader Ed Broadbent used to complain that the NDP was the most conservative party of all in terms of its approach to Parliament and the conduct of parliamentary business and political communications beyond the Hill. He was thinking, among other things, about party line voting.

Second, in this particular instance whose brilliant idea was it that the vote on the Tsawwassen Treaty should be a party line vote, not a free vote? Was this Carole James decision? Did one of her personal staff insist on this approach, and if so, who? Did the NDP Caucus not have a vote on the matter? When it came to a vote in the Caucus, as is surely must have done, what was the vote and who voted which way and when was that vote held? These are questions the answers to which are usually considered confidential, but given this situation those rules are going to have to be put aside and the answers produced.

The above quote from MLA Mike Sather shows that some of the basic democracy and process issues that Preston Manning and the Reformers tapped into in the early 1990s are still out there, and unlike some of Manning's more questionable material, they are ideas worth considering.

Budd you know that proceedings in Caucus are private and have never been made public by the NDP, by the Socreds or Liberals.

The NDP is in trouble and if they want to become their traditional strong party again, they better do something pretty quick.

B.C. would be at a great loss if there wasn't a strong opposition to keep the BC Liberals on their toes.

I'm no fan of the excessive majority the Liberals got in 2001.

You missed the point, Blue Boy. Those proceedings have been considered private in the past, and that arrangement isn't working any more. So change it.

West Coast Greeny stated...

"The NDP will lose seats with James, and the Green Party will gain votes at NDP expense."

Yet in another thread written by Holman, it is written...

"And, just last week, he sang the praises of Premier Gordon Campbell to The Georgia Straight's Carlito Pablo." in reference to the interim (and hopefully if the track record plays out, they'll remove interim from his title) leader, Christopher Ian Bennett. The problem with the Greens is that the people who drink their "kool aid" think that they are all a bunch of progressive NDP castoffs. But look beyond the environmental policy and you'll find a lot of conservative leaning policies. But that's for another day.

Onto this situation. I don't agree with just Sather getting the boot. I haven't seen Gentner recant on refusing to follow the "party line." Its been a long held tradition that those who don't follow along the party line on a whipped vote, sit in the proverbial penalty box. But then again, whoever decided to make this issue a "whipped vote" should also do some time in the sin bin. (can you tell its almost hockey season).

The Fiberals didn't make it a Party Line vote, and no doubt they too have dissenters. But this goes to tactics, and whoever is advising caucus on their tactics needs a good shakeup. Why in hell would you allow the Fiberals opportunities to take potshots at you, your leader and their positions on relevant issues.

These are the same yahoos that tried to sue over the Nisga agreement, yet they're being now seen as being forward thinking, while the NDP caucus are being seen as chasing their tails. There were ways that the Gentner/Sather issue could have been handled better... by both sides. As it is now, well.. seems that ship has sailed.

Kegler,

Michael Smyth made a fool out of Carole James when he reported on Sunday that Getner has not agreed to abstain from the vote and still opposes Carole James on the issue.

Hence why one can only conclude that Sather is expendable; while Gentner and obviously Corky Evans carry more value with the party.

Notice how they eliminated Sather from the NDP website ? Lali never got treated the sameway, so once again it is more about the Carole James offering up Sather as a scapegoat. Hopefully for her sake she has not created a martyr for the NDP party faithful. Either way it will be loose/loose for Carole James and win/win for whatever NDP MLA’s that rise up to challenge her. The writing is on the wall.

"You missed the point, Blue Boy. Those proceedings have been considered private in the past, and that arrangement isn't working any more. So change it."

Well Budd, that's up to the Caucuses of the party of interest, not the voters.

The Caucus will have to decide what if any proceedings become public or at least are let out into the party's gossip network.

The NDP hopefully will not try to replicate the idiotic open Cabinet Meetings that Campbell started off with in 2001. Those were nothing more than light Meet The Cabinet sessions that one sees at party conventions. They were a waste of time since no real business was conducted whereby real hard decsions were made, and actual government reporting was discussed.

I had to chuckle as I was cruising the BC Gov website the other day and stumbled upon the open cabinet meeting section; that is still relatively prominently featured under “The Premier Online” and the comment “The date of the next open cabinet meeting has not been set. It will be posted here as soon as it has been scheduled. “ . Funny part is that it was dated back in 2005. You’d think they would deal with that embarrassment sooner or later. On a related topic it was interesting to see that the official “wastebuster” website has quietly become active again with the most recent update reported on Sept 12, 2007 and 8,317 submissions received. Under popular topics “eliminate open cabinet meeting” the response is even more amusing.

"Well Budd, that's up to the Caucuses of the party of interest, not the voters."

Excuse me, Blue Boy?!?! You'rs saying that the voters have to await the pleasure of the Members, or else?

There's an attitude from the century before last, but sadly, one that is still very current at the "Rockpile".

"Excuse me, Blue Boy?!?! You'rs saying that the voters have to await the pleasure of the Members, or else?"

Yep.

There's an attitude from the century before last, but sadly, one that is still very current at the "Rockpile".

Sorru Budd, that's the way it is.

If you don't like it, complain to your nearest
friendly neighbourhood NDP MLA.

Or, bring a motion forward to your brothers and sisters in the NDP Convention that coming up.

The NDP as opposition is supposed to act as 'government in waiting' and perhaps the NDP would come up with something new.

Something better than Debate Leader (labels used
by the Bob Skelly Caucus for Opposition Critics),
or useage of the Premier's first and Minister's first names in conversations and discussions (brought forward by the Harcourt govenrment)

There's nothing the voters can do to lift the
cover over Caucus meetings, unless whatever it is that was discussed gets out into the applicable NDP or Liberal gossip mills.

But there would not be any public record of who voted on an issue or why before the actual vote in the Legislature. There would not be any minutes of meetings either.

"There's nothing the voters can do to lift the
cover over Caucus meetings ..."

There is indeed something they can do. Express themselves and vote accordingly.

"There's nothing the voters can do to lift the
cover over Caucus meetings ..."

There is indeed something they can do. Express themselves and vote accordingly."

Well Budd, since ALL parties have the veil of secrecy surrounding Caucus Meetings, does that mean no voting for ANY party because a person is opposed to confidential caucus meetings?

Not a good idea, Budd.

Might as well cancell ALL opportunties to vote.

If you want to change how Caucus conducts itself, run for leader yourself, and clearly and explicitly promise ALL Caucus Meetings will be open and held in the Legislature for the people to attend to in the public gallery.

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.