Resignations of BC New Democratic Party (NDP) leaders represent an opportunity to rebuild, according to MLA Nicholas Simons.
Adrian Dix, NDP leader, announced on Wednesday, September 18, that he was stepping down once his successor was chosen at a leadership convention to be held in 2014. The NDP announced on Saturday, September 21, that Moe Sihota was resigning as president of the party. Sihota is stepping down when his term ends in November.
The NDP lost the May provincial election, ending up with fewer seats and a reduced share of the popular vote, while the BC Liberals were elected to a fourth majority mandate.
Dix did what he said he would do, Simons said, which is put the party before any personal aspirations. “He must be upset, like we all are, about the results of the election,” he said. “This decision is going to help the party do the rebuilding that it needs to do for the next one.”
There was general consensus that people wanted to see change in the leadership of the party itself, Simons said when asked about Sihota. “I think that’s another significant step toward real renewal.”
Simons, MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast since 2005, ran for the NDP leadership in 2011, eventually dropping out and throwing his support behind John Horgan, MLA for Juan de Fuca, who came in third. Mike Farnworth, MLA for Port Coquitlam, came in second to Dix.
Simons said his plans for the future don’t include running for the leadership. “I’m looking forward to seeing good names coming forward,” he said. “It’s nice when people ask me if I’ll run and hope that I’ll run, but I think at this point the party has to take some time and figure out what the timing will be on a leadership race. Maybe this will be an opportunity for the party to renew some connections with people in the community that have obviously been lost.”
What the NDP needs is an influx of new members that will help it rejuvenate, Simons said. “When we’re not looking strong, we’re not exactly attractive,” he said. “What we need to do is go out there with a strong leadership campaign, inspire people with good ideas and rational objectives. I think that is going to get people involved, not just in politics, but in progressive politics, which is what the province desperately needs.”
At this point, Simons said he has to wait and see who will be putting their names forward to run as leader before he can say who he would like to see in that position. “We’re hearing lots of speculation about who’s likely to run,” he said. “Until I know who is running, I don’t want to give someone a job before they apply for it.”
In addition to Farnworth and Horgan, some of the other people who may be running for the leadership include: George Heyman, newly elected MLA for Vancouver-Fairview, former president of the BC Government and Service Employees Union and former executive director of the Sierra Club of BC; Nathan Cullen, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley who is NDP House Leader; and Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver and former MLA for Vancouver-Fairview.