Whipped into line?

When push came to shove, New Democrat leader Carole James may once again have pushed too hard. Dissent against her has been on the rise ever since she expelled Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson from caucus. That prompted Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald to resign as caucus chair. Then, on Friday, Ms. James overreacted again by suggesting party dissidents were being self-centred. This, after Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy resigned as caucus whip.

Think about it. Mr. Simpson was expelled after mildly criticizing Ms. James's speech to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual general meeting. And, for her own part, Ms. Conroy didn't say a bad word about Ms. James on her way out the door. In fact, she didn't say much at all - to the consternation of the press.

In fairness, such actions may speak louder than words. And the 13 caucus members who appear off-side with Ms. James may be bad mouthing her privately. But they've never done so in front of a row of television cameras. So the fact Ms. James did may make it more difficult for her to pull them back insider her tent - or perhaps not.

After all, as of yesterday, The Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer was reporting Robin Austin and Guy Gentner are now back in line.

8 Comments

One thing is for certain: The BCNDP leadership crisis is far from over. The longer this lingers, the longer the reasons for Carole James to leave extend themselves. I don't care if you're talking about a college President or the Leader of the Opposition but most people in a "no confidence" crisis that lingers focus on the "no confidence" - regardless of the desire of the embattled leader in the centre of the storm.

Sean, you miss the main story here. Action of the dissidents is not about Simpson nor is his discipline likely over that single event of mild criticism.

"Ms. Conroy didn't say a bad word." Did she need to say more? Timing and body language said enough. What became visible to all this weekend was the size of the split and which side of the divide each MLA stood.

Did they take positions directly? No, but their actions made the attitudes clear. When one steadfastly and consciously ignores the leader, even continuing a side conversation, while most in the room are offering applause, you have sent a clear message. Right, Jenny Kwan, Katrine Conway, etc.?

BTW, the dissidents were not only self-centred, they were disloyal and absolute political idiots. Patrick Kinsella could not have scripted a better effort to take the heat off Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberal Party.

The mainstream media obliged the Liberals by making a handful of NDP blockheads the main story. Initiating an uprising they knew they could not win (presuming they can count) was contemptuous as well as stupid. The only cause they advanced was that of the BC Liberal Party.

Norm - By numbers do you mean they should only do it if they can hit 50% +1? I guess you never paid attention to Strahl and his gang that played a significant role bringing Day to his knees, which led to Harper becoming leader. They never numbered much more than 1/5 of the Canadian Alliance caucus.

I'm not wanting to belabour the questioning of our Leadership, now that the majority of our yellow-scarfed Provincial Council reps have loudly proclaimed their preference and humpty dumpty has to somehow be put together again.

However, as a constituent of one of the so-called 'contemptuous' MLA's Norm Macdonald, and likely the other MLA's whose constituencies rose up, did not "Initiate" an uprising. My MLA was inundated with angry phonecalls and emails from dedicated longtime New Democrats, including from me, about the process (or lack thereof) by which MLA Simpson was expelled. My dissident MLA is an ethical person, representing his members and constituents, and his action was endorsed 100% by our Executive.

And, without knowing what has been taking place in Caucus, though having heard from members of other constituencies about wildly outrageous and disrespectful statements at least one Carole loyalist MLA was making about Caucus leaders Norm and Katrine Conroy and others, I'm not at all surprised that Katrine -- a very dedicated and non-idiotic New Democrat and indeed a woman with much integrity, who would absolutely hate the Liberals to win another election -- resigned her role as Whip.

Why aren't fingers being pointed at Carole, for letting her caucus deteriorate to that point?

A small part of the NDP wants to go where most citizens do not. It is noble to hold principled views that are more radical than voters will likely accept but not compatible with forming government. Presumably that prospect is of interest to the remaining party members.

Again, I don't argue with being principled, I admire it. So, if the dozen or so people sitting in opposition are determined to stay there, unwilling to compromise fundamental principles to stand with the balance of the caucus, they should leave the party and form a new one with a platform of which they approve.

Removing a particular element from the NDP might make it more attractive to voters who stand between the far right and the far left.

The consequence of additional parties might be future minority governments but that seems quite desirable in comparison to having a government that operates strictly for the benefit of vested interests.

You know what message the decisions made at this Provincial Council sent to the people of BC - that 85% of the NDP council are out of touch with the electorate and what they want. That 85% of the NDP council oppose true democracy, within their own party. If Ms. James has nothing to fear, then a truly democratic party would have encouraged the healthy competition a leadership convention would have offered.

Carole has twice failed to capture the interest and the voters to become Premier against the most unsavoury, unethical Premier in the history of BC. This is pure and simple politics, as "nice" as Carole might be that does not cut it. Many voters couldn't even hold their noses and vote for her as leader and a record number of people stayed home from the voting booth. That is the legacy of the NDP, who failed BC in the last election. Just because someone has the political machinery to lead doesn't mean they should.

The NDP was wiped from the map in 2001, perhaps that was well deserved. From what I understand, Carole's own seat isn't even secure at this point. A lot will happen in the years before 2013, make no mistake, the survival of the NDP is at-risk. The hubris of this generation of leaders is on display in everything that they do, in the BC Liberals & NDP. You will have only yourselves to blame and the contempt of the rest of BC for the decisions made. BC will be watching this train wreck and voters will know that the party had the opportunity to do the right thing and did not, failing everyone. Hope it was worth it.

As I type, listening to Carole James on CKNW be confronted by Bill Good that the hard reality is that 1/3rd of caucus isn't supportive of her as Leader. Trying to talk a good game about trust, but I doubt seriously she can make it happen. That said, the concilitory tone may help. May.

Lana (Popham) for Leader? Just listen to her on Public Eye Online radio... :-).

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