EDITORIAL: NDP could find new leader in Greater Victoria

John Horgan and Rob Fleming among names being tossed around to replace Adrian Dix

During the provincial election in May, the presumed NDP victory left pundits wondering how many cabinet ministers might come from Greater Victoria and the Island, and how that might impact the good fortune of our economy.

Voters of course delivered anything but what the pollsters expected, and once again relegated the region’s provincial NDP representation to opposition roles.

With Adrian Dix now the outgoing NDP leader (the second to resign in less than three years) Greater Victoria now has a strong chance to be home to the Official Opposition’s new leader.

Second runner up to Dix in 2011, Juan de Fuca MLA and Langford resident John Horgan is arguably Greater Victoria’s strongest candidate for the top job. A three-term MLA and with a high profile as energy critic and house leader, Horgan is the regions most charismatic probable candidate to lead the NDP.

Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming, another three-term veteran, is another viable candidate as education critic, a portfolio fraught with controversy if there ever was one.

Other names have also been floated: Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. Although an outside chance, Carole James could take a shot at her old job.

During his resignation announcement last week, Dix said this province doesn’t need a “second (B.C.) Liberal party.”

It’s advice any leadership candidate should heed. The NDP might be tempted more than ever to fundamentally rewrite party policy and edge toward the political right as a reaction to the party’s election loss, and the earlier round of infighting that led to Carole James stepping down in 2011.

The problem with the NDP isn’t its core values and ideology. The problem is the NDP picks its leaders more on party loyalty than who has the spirit and drive to connect with voters.

NDP party members and insiders have done a lot of navel gazing this year about their election loss. It’s time for the opposition to refocus and think about what kind of leader it wants to act as a check and counterweight to the Liberals’ economic agenda.

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