As the remaining four B.C. New Democrat leadership hopefuls do their final lobbying to convince party members they give the NDP the best shot at beating the B.C. Liberals, one question stands out: Does the average British Columbian really care who wins?
Last fall, the NDP was in full crisis mode, scrambling to prevent total disintegration in the wake of the resignation of its eight-year leader, Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James. People shook their heads at a party that was a mere shadow of its former unified self.
But timing in politics, as with many things in life, is everything.
The internal strife that led to James stepping down – she lamented the move would be seen by some as “a win for the bullies” in the party – was happening at the same time as the B.C. Liberals were scrambling to take action following the resignation of their own leader, Gordon Campbell. Not only that, the government was still dealing with the fallout from its institution of the harmonized sales tax.
It appears the NDP has done a creditable job at healing its internal wounds and moving forward rather than fading into irrelevancy. To do otherwise would have meant a further erosion of public confidence, which some pundits felt happened in the 2009 election when the NDP failed to gain ground on the Liberals.
Three strong NDP leadership candidates have emerged – including Juan de Fuca’s John Horgan. Each MLA is experienced and has confidence in their ability to face the government head on, a trait the public should find appealing.
Adrian Dix and Mike Farnworth, along with Horgan, appear to have a sense of direction that has been lacking from the NDP in recent years. While a leadership race is not a true predictor of leadership style or substance, the public can expect a more cohesive opposition party.
Such a scenario can only help create better government and serve the people of the province more effectively.