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What a glorious opportunity for a 3rd Party claiming the centre of the political spectrum!

I was surprised at the action taken by Jenny Kwan asking for a leadership convention. What a pickle this puts Carole James in!.

I want to say this about my own position.


It’s hard to evaluate Ms Kwan’s move.

Is it an attempt to push herself as leader? Is it a scheme to advance the cause of another? Is it a genuine attempt to deal with a situation she truly believes is in the best interests of her party, given the desperate situation the Liberals find themselves. I believe that latter is the course and for what seems to Ms Kwan, to be a genuine reason.

Jenny Kwan spent 4 years along with Joy MacPhail as the entire opposition and knows how the Legislature works. She realizes that to be effective the legislature must be like trench warfare. She understands that with the voting system we have, the opposition has no chance at all of materially opposing government which leaves bitter warfare the only option.

I’ve been in this subject for a long time now but permit me to say this: as long as we persist in a system where a majority can do whatever it damned well pleases, the Opposition is limited to either raising hell or simply waiting out until the next election. The trouble with the latter is that while you make the legislature safe from tender children in the gallery, the public, not seeing a fighting opposition, won’t vote for you.

This is Carole James’ big problem. It simply isn’t her style to truly raise hell. She would do very well indeed in a system where minority governments were the rule and debates were truly that, not simply a vigorous exchange of views.

Ms. James also picked a time to be leader when the media supported the Liberals and disparaged the NDP. Nothing less than a strip tease during Question Period would have got her any coverage (pun intended).

With 2 ½ years to go until the next election, it would be foolish to make any predictions. All we do know is what the present state is and the trick is to extrapolate from this what possibilities there are. Having said that, the record indicates that only a tough leader with the support of caucus can win.

The NDP have a much bigger problem than the breach which besets them at this moment for this is only question #1 of a two part question namely, do we dump Ms James and if we do, who can unite the party?

There are, no doubt, some splendid members of caucus but a re-juggling of leadership, from within, will simply change the bitchers. How could any present member of caucus heal the deep wounds?

There is one name outside the caucus who could do this and it’s not Gregor Robertson. It’s – are you ready for this – Joy MacPhail. Although out of the limelight for a bit, and now, I’m told, working with a successful company and a good marriage, she has a good record in government and one can only marvel at what she and Ms Kwan did as the lonely opposition 2001-2005.

Moreover, Ms. MacPhail has lately been seen a bit around the party and party goings on.

What Gordon Campbell’s pending departure has done is to create a “new pitcher, new strikes” situation where with almost anyone the Liberals choose as the new premier, they will be competitive in 2013.

In fact, it the NDP doesn’t get its act together, they, not the Liberals, will be the underdog.

10 Responses to “Potential new NDP leaders III”

  1. Skookum1 says:

    Great minds think alike, Rafe. I posted much the same on Tieleman’s Facebook page last night:

    I have an idea for an NDP leader – and I don’t necessarily vote NDP. Jenny was one of the two-woman Unofficial Opposition (so declared by Gordo, who had no right to and violated the constitution doing so) who took on the rabid pack of 75 o…ut of 77 MLAs from 2001 to 2005, and still managed, day after day, to embarrass the government. The two of them together did more than the NDP have done e.g. about BC Rail (but other things also) in the last few years……Jenny may have aspirations to the Premiership herself, we’ll see maybe. But I have an idea – given that Corky Evans ain’t available (sadly) and Glen Clark is still licking his wounds and not ready for a re-match (now THERE’s the guy to launch an inquiry…and try not to make it look like a vendatta)…..so looking for someone who knows how to take an issue in her teeth and knows how to not let go:

    “Draft Joy McPhail”.

    I think she’s done with politics and having fun in the film biz; but in her stint as part of the two-MLA Opposition, she drew more blood than Carole James could ever learn how to; in politics, niceness doesn’t pay, nor does timidity, and James is cursed with both. The NDP need someone who’s not afraid to open his/her mouth and ALSO says the right thing, or at least something delightfully inflammatory like Davey Boy was so good at (and Clark, on occasion). The Libs are going to hold an early election, and referendum, to head off the NDP having a chance at a new, potentially much more successful leader; Kwan is right – waiting until November is political disaster. And a cautious decisions reflecting only “caucus and party solidarity”, not political utility to the restive public of British Columbia, fed up with both parties and despising both leaders, looking for fresh blood, fresh vision.

    Note I said, fresh blood, not fresh blood-drinkers; the latter we’ve had enough of…..

    If the NDP go into a spring-summer election with James at the helm, they’re gonna lose unless the next Liberal is a complete doofus and/or has locomotive shit all over them. Moira Stilwell could beat her at this point.

    OK OK Glen would need a complete p.r. makeover and all the spin money and clout in advertising in BC is on the Liberal/Tory side of the fence. So that leaves Corky and Joy, both retired….who else has “the right stuff”?

    Jenny, perhaps. Not my favourite politician among the NDP, but enough of a firebrand d to stoke the trooops, and at least awaken public interest, and probably outside media too. Because it’s outside cameras and reporters on the scummy, frustrating politics of British Columbia that’s going to bring a lot into light that our own media won’t…..

  2. e.a.f. says:

    I tend to agree with you on why Ms. Kwan has said what she has. The party owes Ms. Kwan a great debt of gratitude for the work she and McPhail did during the 4 years they stood by themselves.
    Ms. James can simply ignore press questions or say Ms. Kwan is a valued member of the party, etc.
    Now I suspect Ms. McPhail, having survived those 4 years and enjoying life now, will not be all that interested in going back to that life style. Its tough and most of Joy McPhail’s working life dealt with confrontation, first working for the BCGEU and then as an MLA.
    Now who else could be considered as a new and interuim leader, come on down, Ken Georgetti. He hasn’t had the spot light in Ottawa, he enjoyed in B.C. He knows how to handle the press, how long can he continue as the head of the CLC. It must be getting a little boring and cold.
    A bit of weight loss, back into the gym, a few new suits and the boy will be ready to go.

  3. Mark Shaw says:

    Interesting analysis.

    I always thought that Kwan was a light-weight; and James would not have been my first choice. I respect James for having re-built the party from nothing, but acknowledge that there are limitations. My fear is that both James and the NDP are mortally wounded. In the absence of a viable alternative, the Liberals will view winning a 4th term as a sign that they can get away with anything.

    Joy McPhail? I met her once at a UVIC function while she was Finance Minister. She struck me as a very bright, capable politician. She WOULD have been my first choice. The only problem with your scenario is that she is too smart to get back into, for all the reasons that you cite. That truly is BC’s loss.

  4. H.Brian Davison says:

    If memory serves me right, it was Kwan who was also behind getting rid of Mike Harcourt and putting the idiot Clark in. That,s when I quit the party for good!

    Also, her timing is terrible as it defeats all the work that myself and other volunteers did throughout the Province fighting the HST and the Recall.

    It almost makes me believe the Liberals bought her off! What a Xmas present for them.

  5. Skookum1 says:

    Yeah, it’s true about Joy, which is why I used the word “Draft”…..

    And re Kwan being a lightweight, anybody who could torment and defy 75 hostile, boorish rookie BC Liberal MLAs for four years is anything but a lightweight…….I don’t like a lot of her ideas, but I don’t underestimate her abilities, given the sysiphean task she and Joy were faced with 2001-2005. To this date, their hansard debates are quotable and provocative and sting a lot more than anything that’s come out of the NDP caucus since…..

  6. Stewart MacKenzie says:

    H.Brian Davison says:
    December 3, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    If memory serves me right, it was Kwan who was also behind getting rid of Mike Harcourt and putting the idiot Clark in.

    I believe you are mixing Jenny Kwan up with Joy MacPhail, who was part of the Georgetti/Clark/Sihota group which “ushered” Harcourt out of the premiership. (Joy was quite close to Georgetti) .

  7. e.a.f. says:

    Trust me, no one confuses Kwan and MacPhail.
    Yes, MacPail and Georgetti were close but it wasn’t politics.
    Clark and Sihota were always a couple of “young hotshots” in the NDP and tended to appear to hang out. It worked for them and they had similiar styles.
    Glen Clark didn’t need Kwan to decide to replace Harcourt, he was ready to go, he is ambitious and thus will remain where he is. No one should confuse Clark as an idiot, Jimmy Pattison doesn’t hire them.
    When Clark was premier, the average person in b.c. was better off than they are with Campbell as premier and Clark didn’t give away any Railways. You may not have liked his Fast Ferries but at least they were built in B.C.. Campbell has wasted more money on his highway to Whislter than the Fast Cats ever cost us, remember the highway to Whistler is costing us $100 Million a year for 25 years.
    Schools weren’t closing under Clark. B.C. didn’t have the highest rate of child poverty 7 years running with Clark as premier. B.C. had fewer food banks and fewer food bank clients while Clark was premier and we weren’t closing schools.
    The only idiot is Campbell. He has given away this province to anyone who could “ask”.
    His P3Ps are going to cost this province more than any one can imagine, just check the British experience with it.

  8. WendiG says:

    I would love to see someone from outside the Big Smokes of the Province (Victoria/Vancouver) run for the leadership- and I have only one politician in mind- Corky Evans..
    Yes he’s retired, blah blah..still a comparatively young man, I would bet that he could be drafted, and his likeability extends beyond the Party. He’s a wonderful communicator and would be a great choice, someone who isn’t coming out of nowhere, familiar to BC’ers, and and appreciated for his experience and personal charm, not to mention his politics and philosophy…
    This is no time for a flashy new outsider dropping in and ‘impressing’ everyone (we all see how Obama has turned out) – the comfort of a known quantity after all the internal bickering just makes good sense..
    Glen Clark was used and abused so badly that I doubt if he would consider returning..but you never know..
    In the meantime, Corky Evans would be the likeable, viable candidate who could heal the wounds and lead the Party to victory..pleasing the largest number of people on any side of the fence..


    There are two people who could finally make the NDP something people could really believe in – Corky Evans or Nathan Cullen.

    Both are superb communicators, populists, and very, very intelligent. Neither are weighed down by factional baggage. The NDP has to break out of the tired and outdated rhetoric of the past. They have to lead the fight on the environment if they want to pull the Greens Parties teeth. They might have won the last election if not for the Green Party vote. Carole’s resignation speech was perfect though – if anyone had any doubts about why she was in trouble, she cleared them up. Incredibly ungracious and divisive and petulant. She flat lied when she said she had worked hard to “bring the dissidents back in”.

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