Former speaker calls for an end to "name-calling"

"Sadly, yes." That's what former speaker of the legislative assembly Joan Sawicki told Public Eye today, when asked whether provincial New Democrat leader Carole James's resignation announcement has deepened divisions with her party. During that announcement, Ms. James suggested dissident MLAs were "bullies" and claimed that she bears no responsibility for the infighting. "I can appreciate, on a human level, just how she is feeling," Ms. Sawicki allowed. "And I think all of us want to certainly thank her for the contribution she's made to the party and to the province over the past seven years she's been leader. I don't think anyone is suggesting that she hasn't made an incredibly important contribution to rebuilding our party. But every politician knows this is a very, very tough life. And how a leader or any MLA or MP chooses to exit the political world tells a lot about themselves and is just as important as how they enter it."

"Name-calling isn't going to get us beyond this. I think there's probably plenty of blame to go around here. But I have to think a leader of any political party, one of their most important jobs is to keep their caucus together and ensure everybody finds a positive place in that caucus. The fact that Carole James was not able to do that I think speaks volumes and has to have contributed to these really very painful and sometimes ugly events that have happened to us over these past couple weeks."

"It's clear we've had a very public family fight. And I think the events for everyone have been really traumatic and emotionally and painful," she acknowledged. But Ms. Sawicki maintained the party can rebuild and win the next election, encouraging New Democrats to "remember our party is more than a leader, it's more than a group of caucus members and it's more than a few insiders who don't want to let go of the old guard, command-and-control kind of politics."

Indeed, if the party wants to be "relevant to voters" it's going to have to "make the transition to a more engaging and democratic system...Because the back room, command-and-control kind of politics has had its day."

At the same time, she also urged James loyalists to cease their attacks on Jenny Kwan and the other MLAs who stood with her. "I think Jenny has handled herself with incredible dignity and restraint though all this. As she herself has said, making that statement was probably the most difficult decision of her political career. Yes, the action that she and the 12 other MLAs took was unprecedented - but I believe it was also an anomaly."

"Our job out here, in my opinion, is to stop the name calling that is prolonging this very public family fight, reach across the divisions, and remember what makes us all New Democrats. We have a party to renew in a way that is more progressive in its thinking and more inclusive and democratic in its processes - and I think a lot of members and supporters all across this province are excited about that."

7 Comments

That's a candle in the wind... good luck with that... :-)

Sawicki today is saying that James did not help her party by calling the dissidents in her caucus "bullies". Surely Sawicki can remember back to when she was removed as speaker and she then acted like an a$$ which played into the hands of the BC Liberals. Have a look in the mirror Joan before you throw stones!

it is amazing that NDP members and supporters cant see the forest through the trees. You have a chance to form government (had now probably) but all the polls and comments upon comments here and elsewhere all indicate that MS James was ineffective, lacked charisma to ignite the electorate, and showed little acumen in holding liberals accountable for their actions. James finally did the right thing for the party to have a sliver of a chance to be the next government.

Instead, what do we see. NDP members and supporters continuing the in-fighting and turmoil that only ensures your party will never gain power. Why you cant see that is beyond comprehension.

Ms. Sawicki has given sage advice. The ndp membership and supporter should adhere to her advice, get your ACT together, find a leader who shows leadership, be able to clearly state the goals of the NDP, be an effective opposition and come together as a party for the larger goal....being government!

Time to grow up and move on folks. From the perspective of a lowly voter, James & some of her supporters have done way more to damage the NDP's chances of winning the next election than the so called dissidents. The attacks on Jenny Kwan are repugnant and speak volumes about the people making them.

She speaks the truth, and the quicker the James gang stops shooting off their mouths the better. Calling elected MLAs, Anarchists, and saboteurs just doesn't bring more folks on side.
When the last election was lost, it would have been a great time to test the leadership, didn't happen. When MLA Simpson, was chucked out of caucus for saying the leaders speech was not very focused, might well have been resolved by a couple minute one on one. The deed is done, the present leader is going, so it's time to reorganize and get ready for the snap election, expected by many in the spring. I for one can’t understand why it will take a month to get a interim leader in place, but then again I’m no politician
13 duly elected MLA's put in place to represent the voters shouldn't be treated like a bunch of uncaring children

Sawicki says Kwan handled herself with dignity - what a joke. Kwan's letter lacked dignity and was a personal attack. Les Leyne showed how it lacked credibility. The only fault Carole had was that she was not a TV personality type that people often vote for. Anyone who knows her would never label her the way Kwan did. The party will continue to be split until Kwan resigns. Simpson has shown he is not a team player by quitting the NDP after Carole had gone. Kwan and the others are not team players and do not understand how democracy works - remember 84% support.....not good enough for Kwan and co.

Jenny Kwan and her group must show some sign of accepting responsibility for the divided mess that is now the BC NDP. If they think they can now just call for "healing" (ie. don't criticize us) they are mistaken. Jenny could prove to be the healer the party needs by resigning. Then hopefully both sides could call a truce on equal footing. If she truly cares about the party's future, this is what she should do. It's not good enough for the Baker's Dozen to just carry on as if nothing has happened and expect other loyal NDP members to instantly get over the trauma they have caused. I've seen no sign of Jenny (or any of her supporters) reaching out to long-time (35 years) members like me who are deeply upset and offended by their actions.

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