James gang shoots back

Today, as expected, Carole James announced she will be holding an emergency caucus meeting in response to increasing dissent surrounding her leadership of the provincial New Democrats. Speaking with reporters, Ms. James said "every MLA will be held accountable for their behaviour" at that meeting - which has yet to be scheduled. She wouldn't say whether Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan would be expelled from caucus for releasing a public statement on Wednesday criticizing her leadership of the party.

By comparison, just a few weeks ago, Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson was ejected from the official opposition benches for criticizing a speech Ms. James gave to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual general meeting.

Asked about that comparison, Ms. James said Ms. Kwan was being treated differently because "it isn't simply that Jenny is speaking out again me, she's speaking out against the party and the direction the party has sent. It's important the party has an opportunity to speak to Jenny and other caucus members and then we'll decide."

Ms. James said the party's table officers will attend the emergency meeting but couldn't yet say whether labour leaders will be also there.

During the news conference, the leader also took a question on party president Moe Sihota's controversial stipend.

Ms. Kwan has alleged Ms. James knew about that stipend - which MLAs were officially told about for ten months - but "did not intervene."

Asked when it was she found out the arrangement, the leader said, "As I've mentioned - and as I've said in scrums before - it was after it had gone to the party table officers."

In two previous media availabilities, Ms. James had refused to answer that question.

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