New Democrats face a daunting choice: who will replace Carole James?

By David F. Rooney

The bloodletting is done. The knives have been sheathed — at least for now. And the time has begun for healing, renewal and reconciliation within the New Democratic Party in the wake of Carole James’ fall from grace as Opposition Leader.

“The outcome will be better than what came before, but it will be a while before that becomes apparent,” said MLA Norm Macdonald, one of the dissident MLAs who helped push James from her perch as party leader.

He said the caucus will select an interim leader, possibly Opposition House Leader Mike Farnworth (MLA for Port Coquitlam-Burke Mountain) who he said “commands respect” within the caucus,  and then choose a new leader during a convention likely next year.

“We have an opportunity for revitalization and renewal,” said Macdonald, who resigned his position as caucus chairman after James booted Bob Simpson from the caucus for criticizing her at the Union of BC Municipalities. “I want to work to make sure that eventually takes place.”

As to who will eventually make a bid for the leadership, Macdonald said that with one exception he could not make any predictions. He himself will not run for the leadership. As an Interior MLA he lacks the contact with the main population centres on the Lower Mainland which is where the next NDP leader is likely to come from.

“I think there’s a lot of capacity within caucus (allowing a new leader to emerge from there), but there are also people (outside caucus) who could bring exciting perspectives and fresh energy,” he said.

As for Carole James herself, Macdonald said that regardless of their differences he had to respect the fact that she led the party for more than seven years and through two elections, taking it from a rump of just two seats to 34.

Unfortunately, “recent events were challenging” and she could not remain in power, he said.