Message went unheard, says Victoria MLA Carole James

Adrian Dix staying on as B.C. NDP leader at least in short term

Victoria-Beacon Hill NDP MLA-elect Carole James looks forward to a thorough party review in the wake of a surprising provincial election loss May 14 .

She also feels good that  Adrian Dix announced Wednesday he will stay on as B.C. NDP leader in the near future, as the party analyzes how its pre-election lead in the polls evaporated and left it with three less seats, 33, than it had to start the campaign.

“The fact Adrian is staying in the short term to help us through that process, and has said the party membership will make the determination on what happens next – I’m really proud of him for that,” James said  from her home in James Bay.

“It  shows that this is a democracy. And it also will provide us with some focus to get ready for the legislative session.”

The NDP will likely vote at its convention in November on whether to hold a leadership race, she added.

One of the key aspects the NDP must look at during the review, she said, was how it communicates its platform and policies and the way it connects with voters.

While the voter turnout was marginally up in B.C. – 52 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots – the turnout was down in all seven Greater Victoria constituencies, five of which were won outright by the NDP.

James said voter apathy is a problem all parties need to work to address.

Speaking at a press conference in Vancouver on Wednesday, Dix didn’t specify a time frame for the election post-mortem. He did say he will work to prepare the NDP opposition to hold the government to its election commitments.

“I assure you this review will spare nothing and no one, least of all me,” Dix said. “It must address the strategy and tactics we employed in the election, and it must examine the fundamental question of who we are as a party and our relationship with the people of B.C.”

Dix took responsibility for mishandling a campaign that began with the NDP expecting a strong majority government after four years of turmoil in the B.C. Liberals’ ranks over the harmonized sales tax and other issues. He singled out as a significant error his surprise mid-campaign decision to turn against the proposal to expand the Trans-Mountain oil pipeline that runs from northern Alberta to Burnaby and Washington state.

Some James fans have wondered aloud whether the party might have defeated the Liberals with James, NDP leader from 2003 to 2011, at the helm.

“I was proud to run with Adrian and went into this election as a strong member of Adrian’s team,” James said. “I don’t hang onto things. Rather than look back at what might have been, it’s more important to look ahead to the next (legislative) session.”

Asked about the public opinion polls that predicted an NDP victory, James laughed.

“In an ideal world I’d love to see no poll results released during the campaign,” she said. “But I think that horse was let out of the barn a long time ago. The world is changing and people want information.”

Clark planned to meet with her team of candidates in Vancouver yesterday.

– with files from Tom Fletcher