Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson, has said he knew he was "playing with fire" when he penned an op-ed criticizing provincial New Democrat leader Carole James's speech to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual general meeting. But he didn't expect to be kicked out of the opposition caucus for it. In an exclusive interview this morning with Public Eye, Mr. Simpson said Ms. James phoned him last night to ask for "public apology. And I asked her what I was to apologize for because really, at the heart of it, was a two sentence statement in which I said her UBCM speech lacked specifics. But it was within the context of saying that all of the provincial-federal leaders really didn't address the issues of local government in their UBCM speeches and that was unfortunate. So I was quite shocked."
But, that being said, Mr. Simpson stated his expulsion from caucus is "part of a bigger context" in which he has been been raising concerns with Ms. James, her chief of staff Jim Rutkowski, party president Moe Sihota and fellow MLAs about the state of the New Democrats. In fact, he was scheduled to have a meeting in Vancouver with the party leader about the issue next week.
"I am concerned about the direction of the party, I am concerned about what's happening with the party membership. And I'm particularly concerned that we're not telling British Columbians what we're going to do in government should we form government in 2013. So I've been relaying that concern for some time and it was going to come to a head next week. And maybe that's why they decided to nip it in the bud by using this excuse to remove me."
Listen to the complete interview for more information about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Simpson's expulsion.