The weight of numbers

Carole James's hard line toward dissent surrounding her leadership hasn't softened. In an email sent out to party members earlier today, Ms. James stated, "As you know, New Democrat MLA Jenny Kwan has called for a leadership race and some members of the caucus have spoken publicly in support of that call. This is not their choice to make" - a reference to an earlier decision by the party's governing council to not approve a resolution that would have seen a leadership convention in 2011. As a result, Ms. James is calling on supporters to add their name "to the growing list of New Democrats that stand united for positive change in BC." That email was sent out around two hours ago. The party's Website states the list already stands at 2081 at publication time. The following is a complete of the aforementioned message.

From: "Carole James"
Subject: New Democrats, United

I'm writing to you as a strong believer in our movement, to address the unprecedented events of the last two days.

As you know, New Democrat MLA Jenny Kwan has called for a leadership race and some members of the caucus have spoken publicly in support of that call.

This is not their choice to make.

For more than a generation, our party has developed a strong democratic structure that is unique in Canada's political landscape. Our party is built upon the strength of members like you, and the decisions you make.

Our Provincial Council - the highest governing body of our party - is composed of over one hundred representatives from every constituency of the province, and every component of our party. It is a representative and democratic body charged with making the strategic decisions that move us forward.

Just days ago at the last meeting of our Provincial Council, delegates voted overwhelmingly not to hold a leadership race, but to proceed with the normal leadership review process in 2011.

Our party has a clear mandate from the Provincial Council: to support the work of our NDP caucus; to continue the discussion we started at Council about new ideas and progressive policy that will help shape our province; and to continue building to win the next election.

I can't overstate the importance of our task: British Columbians are counting on us to bring real change to our province.

We've seen this week that Kevin Falcon, George Abbott, Mike de Jong and Moira Stilwell are all gunning to be leader of the BC Liberals, and premier of BC.

They each want to take over Gordon Campbell's failed legacy, while at the same time convince voters that they are a new face and a new direction.

After ten years of BC Liberal failures, we are at a turning point. We must turn the tide.

WE CANNOT FAIL.

Now, more than ever, New Democrats MUST stand as a united front.

Whether it's our proposal to create a green fund to retrofit public buildings and invest in transit, building a strong early learning and childcare system, restoring proper employment standards for BC's workers, revitalizing BC's parks and protecting our wild salmon stocks or implementing an Accountability Act that returns integrity to government, we must function as a strong team in order to achieve the goals we've set out for ourselves.

We must stand united around our goals to build a better British Columbia based on our progressive vision.

And we urgently need your help:

Add your name to the growing list of New Democrats that stand united for positive change in BC.

You have a crucial role to play in changing our province.

We can only succeed by working together.

Stand united with the NDP:

Renew your membership
Make a donation to our movement
Volunteer to change our province.
We're counting on you.

-Carole

4 Comments

I am not a member of any political party, and never will be, and as such will make my comments based only on my observations of the last couple of weeks regarding the BC NDP's implosion.

Those that are backing Carole James as being the reason that the NDP went from 2 seats in 2001 to a respectable showing in the election in 2005 are deluding themselves. It was Gordon Campbell's arrogance after winning the 2001 election that brought the BC NDP's fortunes back to some form of respectability.

Fast forward to the 2009 election, and the BC Liberal Party was ripe for the picking, and yet under Carole James, the BC NDP Party dropped the ball. They came out with a non-platform which just wasn't good enough. The other problem was, that during the period between 2005 and 2009, the BC NDP Party was not effective as the opposition. Whether it was a poor game plan or lack of will, the electorate was able to find out more information about such things as IPPs, the raiding of ICBC's piggy bank and pretty much everything else from media such as The Tyee, this site and even the odd tidbit from the MSM. Even when various issues came up, the opposition was basically silent.

Since the last election, the HST was rejected by the majority of voters in BC almost from the getgo. And yet, who was the real opposition to this tax? Who took the bull by the horns? Not Carole James and her minions, but an unlikely group led by Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney and Bill Tieleman. The NDP's role was nothing more than that of a tagalong, riding on the coattails of the FightHST initiative.

Our archaic system of governance dictates that the opposition has no real power. The role of the opposition is nothing more than a four year audition to let the masses know if you are ready to take over the big job. The results of the last election indicate that the Carole James led audition between 2005 and 2009 didn't cut the mustard, and nothing has changed since May 12,2009.

Carole James has gone as far as she can go as leader, and should do the right thing by stepping aside. A good number of her caucus know it, the BC Liberal Party know it and most of all, the voters know it. Instead of prolonging the inevitable, she should bite the bullet if she is as committed to her party as she states in her message. It would be a bitter pill for her to swallow as nobody wants to admit defeat, but sometimes one must sacrifice their ego for their ideals to come to fruition.

Want to make a comment on the campaign mode exhibited by the Carole James team in their letter above. It is another example of failure by them to make room for diverse opinions in the party. Where is the campaign to get broad feedback from party members. It isn't there. What they provide above is a mechanism for the Carole James supporters.

Sure, they can quickly pull some nice numbers, like 2016, because they have free access the the entire membership email list.

The unhappy NDP members are relying on their small personal networks to reach out.

Note, by the way, that given their resources and staff to pull out support, they still have only about 20% of the total membership.

Dear Fellow New Democrats, people who have put your jobs on the line, people of principle, people in distress:

First of all, let me say that I applaud Jenny Kwan for speaking out. I have faith in her integrity, and know that she would not have spoken that way if she could see another way to make things work. I also appreciate the integrity of the non-scarf-wearers, and especially Norm Macdonald and Kat Conroy, who did what they had to do without denigrating anyone. I believe that these MLAs have been pushed into an untenable position, and have acted as honourably as is humanly possible.

So you can see that if there are “sides”, then I am on their side. I am angry that it has come this far – we could see this train wreck coming two years ago.

But aside from anger, I am mostly sad and hurt. We, on this side, do not feel that we are complainers or tearing the party apart. We feel that we are doing what has to be done in order to protect our Party and our province.

However, I have friends on the “other side”. I know that they are also angry, sad, and hurt. They feel that they are doing what they have to do.

I am reminded, over and over, of an essay by Wendell Berry about why he dislikes movements. One of the reasons is that eventually movements become “that to which we are opposed”. And so I find myself, now, watching the “other side” organize vengeance and the stomping out of opposition, and “our side” organizing to support the non-scarf-wearers and defeat Carole James whenever we get the chance. It strikes me that in this emotional battle, we
have become that to which we are opposed. We are using the rules to fight with each other; we are ramping up tensions out of fear and anger; we are becoming entrenched in positions.

On my side, I would like to blame Carole James and Moe Sihota for not averting the wreck when they could see it coming. I want to say that it is evidence of poor leadership. But I am conscious, also, that this tendency
to blame is another thing that I am opposed to.

If we could be at our best in resolving the conflict, what would it look like?

First, I think we need to recognize that emotions are clouding everyone’s thinking. We cannot expect folks to resolve their differences in this climate of anger. How about a cooling off period? How about a mediator? What would it take for everyone to listen to genuine concerns in the spirit of reconciliation? If our caucus can’t work together (and I fully believe this might be the case, because I expect that they have tried), then can they agree on some thread of commonality that they can maintain while they work separately?

We are making a mistake when we imagine only two choices as resolution: either Carole James resigns or those who don’t like her leadership become independents. Maybe this is an opportunity to think outside the box and to truly “do politics differently”. We should consider that our troubles may be related to Canada’s political culture of very controlled decision-making, and not unique to our Party. We have come to believe that every MLA has to
say exactly the same words and there can be no independent thinking or speaking. Maybe the pendulum has swung too far that way, and our only way forward is a compromise that allows all sides to maintain integrity.

Everyone deserves the chance to get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and be comfortable with what they see.

Sincerely,
Laurie Page
Nakusp

Every time Carole James faces a crisis she reacts with empty, robotic statements: "a strong believer in our movement"; "new ideas and progressive policy that will help shape our province"; "We cannot fail" -- How about some new vocabulary, Carole? (She has none, of course, because all she knows is the formulaic rhetoric of politics.)

After the last election Carole James declared that she intended to remain as leader to lead the party into the next election. That decision alone showed how divorced from reality she is. She just doesn't have what it takes to be premier of this province -- and she still does not understand that truth.

That is why she will have to be forced out -- because she is just too dumb to resign.

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