(Photo: Carole James and Moe Sihota)


MANY NDP MLAs are jittery about Jenny Kwan, Harry Lali and 11 other dissidents who forced NDP Leader Carole James to quit this Monday. They really do not trust these rebels and wonder if they will sabotage the party again if and when it suits them.
Many still can’t get over the ridiculous scenario of a minority getting rid of a leader supported by the majority – 13 versus 21 MLAs – and have a GENUINE CONCERN about their behaviour in the future. What kind of a message is that sending out to British Columbians? Are they going to elect the NDP into power just to see them fight like cats and dogs on every issue? Will every issue have to be approved by a caucus vote? How practical will that be? Indeed, how divisive will that be?


(Photo: Mike Farnworth)


There also seems to be great tension between NDP President Moe Sihota and Lali. And rumours that Lali might try for the leadership – perhaps, banking on mass sign-ups by South Asians – are leading to warnings about another disaster for the party – just like the Ujjal Dosanjh 2001 disaster in which the NDP was reduced to two seats!
Even after a new leader is elected, it would be high folly to think that ALL THIS BAD BLOOD will go away that easily.

( Photo: Adrian Dix )


LAST Sunday, it seemed that there was a possibility of a compromise, as Kathy Corrigan, acting chair of the B.C. New Democrat caucus, announced that the caucus meeting had been postponed. She said: “Time is being given for private discussions to ensure that the clear direction set by our leader and our party is followed: to unite and offer British Columbians a positive progressive alternative in the next election.”
But Kwan and her gang were determined to stick to their role of bullies and a dignified James, not willing to wreck the party, decided to step down on Monday. This was the same James who had taken the party from just two MLAs to 35 MLAs.
But quite obviously there were dirty political moves going on behind the scenes. James told the Province newspaper’s Ian Austin that party brokers such as Bob Williams and Bill Tieleman were actively trying to get rid of her because she was reaching out to business.


(Photo : Jenny Kwan )


Kwan’s explanation that the party was in a hurry to choose to a new leader for fear the Liberals would call a snap election after they had elected their new leader is nothing but b.s. – after all, the majority of MLAs, including potential leaders such as Mike Farnsworth and Adrian Dix, were still supporting James.
Most NDP MLAs will in their heart of hearts never trust Kwan or Lali again.
James in her statement on Monday noted: “Over the last two months, we’ve seen some members of our caucus decided to use their time and energy in-fighting instead of working on behalf of British Columbians.
“I and many others have made efforts to try and resolve this issue. We’ve reached out; we’ve tried to get people back to work.
“I sent a message … our party’s governing body sent a very clear message.
“But the in-fighting continues. I’ve spent my entire life working at building things, not complaining and taking them apart.
“And right now, at this point in time, my time and energy as leader is consumed with the in-fighting. And that’s not right.
“It’s not productive, it’s not useful and most importantly, it’s not serving the people of British Columbia.
“Fighting amongst ourselves is not what we were elected to do.”
She said: “I have always believed in putting the common good ahead of personal gain.”
James added: “It is time for all caucus members to find a way to unite to serve British Columbians.”


( Photo: Harry Lali )
THAT brings us to the inevitable question: Who’ll be the next NDP leader?
I have been saying over the past few years that the best person to replace James would be Mike Farnsworth. Adrian Dix would also make a good leader.
Interestingly, an Ipsos Reid poll conducted for Global B.C. on December 6 and 7 asked 1,400 random adults to rate 17 possible leaders and, after deducting the negative impression from the positive impression, found that FARNWORTH’S net impression score was the HIGHEST at 15 (31 per cent positive and 16 per cent negative), former MLA Corky Evans came second with a score of 7 and Adrian Dix was third with 6.
The ones at the lowest end: George Heyman, former B.C. Government Employees Union boss (minus 17), Jim Sinclair, B.C. Federation of Labour boss (minus 26) and NDP President Moe Sihota (minus 41).
But, as MLA John Horgan told the Globe and Mail newspaper: “There are 21 caucus members – I among them – who are even now scratching their heads about what the expectations of the 13 are now.
“It’s a pretty brutal business. … It would give anyone who would seek to lead the NDP pause.”


AND an Angus Reid polled released on Thursday showed the massive damage that Kwan, Lali and the other dissidents have inflicted on their party: an online survey of 804 adults showed that the NDP and the Liberals are now neck-and-neck with the NDP support dropping from 47 per cent last month to 36 per cent among decided voters.
Christy Clark is the most popular choice among Liberals leaders with 41 per cent, while Mike Farnworth is the most popular one among the NDP leaders with 34 per cent.