Rob Fleming says pessimism among provincial New Democrats following last May’s surprising election defeat is making him consider run for his party’s top job.
The 42-year-old Victoria-Swan Lake MLA says he’s “actively considering” vying for leadership of the NDP.
“I think not only does our party need new leadership, but the province needs a vision that is in tune with where I think mainstream British Columbia is at,” he said. “People want a government that cares about social justice issues and environmental stewardship, and has a strong economic plan. … That’s why I joined the NDP. And the fact that we’re not known right now as that party is, I think, the problem around failing to win elections.”
Fleming was a strong supporter of Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth in the April 2011 leadership race. Farnworth narrowly lost to Adrian Dix. At the time Fleming said he wasn’t considering running for leadership.
“It just doesn’t work for me right now,” he told the News in January 2011. “It would be difficult for me. I have two small children, neither are school-aged yet, and I’m just enjoying being an MLA.”
While his children are older, he says the May 2013 election loss is key in his decision-making.
“What’s changed is that the NDP has lost another election that it should never have lost. And I think a lot of people in the party have reached the pessimistic conclusion about that, that the coalition isn’t big enough for the NDP to win government. I categorically reject that,” he said.
In the coming weeks, Fleming, who was raised on the North Shore, plans to speak with colleagues and organizers to gauge his level of support, particularly in the Lower Mainland.
“It’s important to have a strong organization in the Lower Mainland if you don’t come from there,” he said.
Fleming says he expects to make a formal decision in the next couple of months.
The BC NDP will select and announce its new leader this September, after a four-day day voting period.
Voting will take place within the party from Sept. 24-27, 2014 and a new leader will be announced on September 28 in Vancouver. Votes will be cast over the telephone and an Internet voting system.
– with files from Kolby Solinsky