Provincial New Democrats could soon have the power to oust their leader, Carole James, Public Eye has exclusively learned. At present, there isn't any formal way for members to push out James - who has said she intends to lead the New Democrats into the 2013 election. But, at the party's convention in Vancouver later this month, delegates will be considering one. They'll debate a resolution that will, if passed, see the party hold a secret ballot at each future convention on whether to have a leadership contest. And, if 50 percent plus one delegate supports such a race, an election will be held within a year.
The resolution - which is among those that have been given top priority at the convention - takes pains to point out "such a provision is commonplace in other political parties, including the federal NDP." And it stresses "the capacity for rank and file members to express their views about their Leader" is a "healthy aspect of any democratic political movement."
But the resolution may prompt speculation the knives are out for Ms. James who, according to the most recent Angus Reid Strategies Corp. poll, has the approval of just 26 percent of British Columbians.
New Democrat conventions are held once every two years when the party is in opposition and once a year when the party is in government.
The following is a complete copy of that resolution.
G2009-01 REGULAR LEADERSHIP REVIEW
WHEREAS the British Columbia New Democratic Party justifiably prides itself on being democratic; and
WHEREAS the ability of members of a political party to have a voice in the selection of their leader is essential to a democratic organization;
WHEREAS no provision currently exists in the BC NDP Constitution allowing for a member survey on the performance of the Party Leader,
WHEREAS the adoption of one-member, one-vote in article 12.01 to select the leader created an inconsistency with Article XIII - Election of Executive; and
WHEREAS except when there is a vacancy in the position of Leader, there is no mandatory review or open election as there is for other Executive members; and
WHEREAS such a provision is commonplace in other political parties, including the federal NDP; and
WHEREAS such a mechanism provides the capacity for rank and file members to express their views about their Leader, as a regular activity at every convention; and
WHEREAS such an expression is a healthy aspect of any democratic political movement and should be encouraged in the BC NDP;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Article XI - 'The Provincial Leader' be amended by adding a new section 11.03 that states:
"At every convention that is not a leadership convention, a secret ballot vote will be held among convention delegates to determine whether or not a leadership election should be called. If 50% plus one delegate supports the calling of a leadership election, such an election will be held within one year of the convention vote. This section may be waived by Provincial Executive when there is a general provincial election that would not allow sufficient time to comply with the time frame set out."
THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Article XIII Section (b) be amended by adding "except for the leader" in the preamble so that it now reads:
"The Provincial Executive, except for the leader, shall be elected at a provincial Convention. All votes, where required, shall be a secret ballot of accredited delegates present during the time set aside for balloting, in the following manner:"
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Article XIII Section (b) be amended by removing the word 'leader' from (b)(i) so that it now reads:
"The President and Treasurer each shall be elected on a separate ballot;"
Composite resolution based on submissions from:
CONSTITUTION AND PARTY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
NANAIMO NORTH COWICHAN
PRINCE GEORGE MACKENZIE
PRINCE GEORGE VALEMOUNT