Former cabinet minister Moe Sihota is considering running to be president of the provincial New Democrats at the party's upcoming convention. But, if he does, he'll be competing against BC Hydro Corp. senior strategic planner Brian Fisher. In a message being distributed to delegates, Mr. Fisher states he's put his name forward because he wants to address the "democratic deficit" in the party and get it "back on track."
According to Mr. Fisher, many party members are concerned "too many decisions are made by Table Officers and not Provincial Council" - the body that includes the party's constituency association presidents. And thinks the party has erred by becoming "more centrist, moving away from its socialist roots in an attempt to be more 'electable.'"
As a result, if elected, Mr. Fisher promises to "continually advocate for socialist solutions, support government intervention and ownership, and rail against the remnants of outdated McCarthyism which still influences our citizens and the right wing press." The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned message.
November 10, 2009
F.R. Brian Fisher
Hello fellow NDP delegates.
My name is Brian Fisher.
I have been a member of the NDP party since 1993.
I have worked on several campaigns and have served on the Nanaimo-Cowichan Federal executive. In the past few years, I have been involved with a number of NDP discussion groups; most recently with one called the "Ginger Group" named after Ginger Goodwin.
As the result of this activity, I have spoken with a number of current and former members and some "supporters who have never joined" who have expressed concern with the direction in which the party appears to be heading.
By and large, these people have expressed concern that the party has not given adequate emphasis to their principle concern, whether social, environmental or economic issues, but in virtually every case, there has been an expression of concern that there is a democratic deficit developing in the party and that members and supporters feel unseen and unheard if expressing opinions or making suggestions. Many expressed concern that too many decisions are made by Table Officers and not Provincial Council. As a member who has on a number of occasions been chastised for criticizing the party or told "we know what's best, just send money"; I believe that this loss of contact with the grass roots membership is a fact and has been detrimental to our fortunes as a party. I have no intention or desire to express blame for why this condition exists. I only wish to express the point that it does exist and if uncorrected will make us even less viable as a force.
A second frequent concern was that the Party has attempted to become more centrist, moving away from its socialist roots in an attempt to be more "electable". I believe this is an error.
During the past few months, I have put some effort into trying to recruit a candidate for party president who would address these issues. I have approached several great people with offers of support and assistance. All have declined for the very best of reasons. In an attempt, therefore, to address the democratic deficit and get our party back on track; I have decided to offer my name as a candidate for President of the BC NDP at our convention. I am soliciting your support and assistance to enable us to re-establish our party as a powerful voice for the citizens of British Columbia.
I am a Registered Professional Biologist in the Province of British Columbia. I also hold a degree with majors in Psychology and Business. I believe I have a working understanding of the social, economic and environmental challenges that we face today, both provincially and globally.
I have been both a Union and Management employee in the course of my career including spending a period of time as a counselor with the OPEIU (COPE). I also ran my own small businesses for a number of years. I am currently holding a position with BC Hydro as a Senior Strategic Planner. I am 65 years old and could consider retiring from BC Hydro should I be successful in being elected President of our party. I am an accomplished public speaker with several international presentations in my resume.
While the position of President is prestigious and it would be a great honour to serve in this capacity; I also see this as an application for the CEO position within the NDP. I am a competent administrator.
If successful, my first intention, and I think, my first responsibility, would be to work with the Provincial Secretary to develop a communication system that would provide opportunity for all members to have their opinions heard and considered. This would involve developing and providing resources to gather thoughts from our members, assembling these ideas and suggestions in a concise manner and delivering them to our Provincial Council. It would also involve enabling the ideas and deliberations of Provincial Council to be disseminated to the membership for feedback and input. We could also seek expertise from our membership to assist the decision-making.
During the past several years, I have heard calls from some party people to be uncritically supportive of the party. It is my bias, that better policies come from dissention and debate and I see the job of the president to act deliberately to accommodate that debate so that the party may become stronger as a result. We need our members to participate fully in the formulation of our policies and platforms. In my role as President, l would make it a priority to ensure that the voices of our members are heard.
I believe that I have the qualifications and experience to deliver you the kind of vibrant party administration that we as members deserve and to build support systems to assist the members of Provincial Council with their deliberations and decisions. I can act together with your executive to ensure a balance of Environmental, Economic and Social platforms and policies. I believe I can assist in the resolution of disagreements between factions. My experience within the party may be an asset as I have no "markers" out with anyone. I believe I can facilitate building the kind of team who can deliver superior platforms to the voters of BC and assist our candidates to win election.
Finally, If I am elected, I shall unequivocally assume and believe that the BC NDP is a socialist organization and I shall consider it my duty and responsibility to remind our executive, members and supporters that we must continually advocate for socialist solutions, support government intervention and ownership, and rail against the remnants of outdated McCarthyism which still influences our citizens and the right wing press.
We must stop the exploitation of our citizens and the resources of our province to fill the coffers of wealthy foreign corporations. We must, above all, stop apologizing for being socialists. The greed driven corporate capitalistic economic system has failed and we have a viable alternative to offer.
Corporate opportunity in the resource sector should be afforded only to those which are sustainable and accept and fulfill their social and environmental responsibilities.
I thank you for your consideration of my candidacy.