Under James’ Own Rules…Kwan Must Go

NDP Leader Carole James mishandled the “Bob Simpson” problem several weeks ago ..and now that has come back to haunt her.

At the time, I criticised James for having MLA Simpson turfed from caucus for publicly criticising as lacklustre a speech  she made to the Union of BC Municipalties convention. It was lacklustre.  But although he did not say the leader had to go …his remarks were seen as criticism of James, so he got the boot.

The precedent was set; the message sent: open criticism would not be tolerated.

Now MLA Jenny Kwan has said much worse.

In a statement Wednesday the seasoned Vancouver NDPer said under James, there has been “a steady erosion of our democratic principles.”

“Debate has been stifled, decision making centralized and individual MLAs marginalized,” Kwan continued.

“Carole James is dividing the party by staying on as leader.”


And once more, she openly called for a leadership convention …this only two weeks after the “leader” received a resounding vote of support from the party’s provincial council.

Sure seems to me this is all a LOT worse than merely criticising a speech!!!

So Kwan has to go …kicked out of caucus …which I suspect she wants so she can pursue her campaign fora revolution inside the party.

To allow her to stay in caucus…when Simpson was booted for a lot less… would be the utmost in hypocrisy.

Harv Oberfeld

This entry was posted in British Columbia. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Under James’ Own Rules…Kwan Must Go

  1. Terrence says:

    Apparently Kwan has a fair bit of support within the NDP party and caucus . She, and a number of other sitting NDP members, will sit as independents, unless James calls a formal leadership convention and review.

    The NDP’s general council is not a leadership review – it is a formality that does not represent the whole party – as a leadership convention would.

    (Response: Don’t you love politics! I sure do. 🙂 h.o

  2. patrick bell (NOT THE MLA) says:

    Ha ha ha…..isn’t this the best time to sit back and watch the two major parties in BC bumble and peck from the inside out? It is great for democracy I say! When the dust settles lets hope we have more openness and honestly from government for fear whichever party leads will have to worry about leaks from the inside 🙂

    Harvey, I believe what you said a couple posts ago will come to fruition…I believe it was you. That, the NDP will sit back and watch a new leader be selected from the Liberals, be in the public eye for a while then James will step down and the NDP will select a new leader just in time for the next election……seems like a very savvy political move for a party that rarely seems to make a savvy move 🙂

    (Response: What did Shakespeare say? The best laid plans of mice and men go often astray! My projection was based on the dissidents biding their time for her to do “the right thing” next spring. The fact they startered hurling their spears at her so fast after the council met tells me they think she actually may be thinking of holding on through the election. Incredible! So the attacks will continue…she’ll be throwing people out in pairs soon, and be left with shambles internally, as the external rhetoric escalates. Gordon Campbell’s prayers have been answered …at least this one. h.o.)

  3. brian says:

    Kwan has thrown down the gauntlet to james. Kwan in her press release was absolutely clear in her attack on James. And she is daring James to try to throw her out of caucus.

    I agree, harv, James has very little choice but to do what she did with Simpson, throw Kwan out. The problem will be that wont end it. It will be the first of many other MLAs walking out of cacus, IMO.

    James clearly has only one other choice, something she should have done months ago, and that is to call for a leadership convention immediately in preparation of the election that may be before the legislated date of May 2013. If James believes she has the backing of other NDPers, then she can run to stay as leader and let the convention decide who should lead the party.

  4. ron wilton says:

    I’m withya on this one Harv. I like the way JK deported herself in opposition and her tenacity is refreshing.
    I hope she comes out of this with as much fire as she has shown in the past. Carole does need to be freed from traditional party dogma, and I hope this move by JK gets the pot boiling.

  5. Ruaridh says:

    I can just hear the barbed comments – they could not even organize a political coup d’etat.

    But then, neither could the liberals among thremselves.

    What it all signals is the the political process in BC has moved from a parliamentary style of accountability to governance by special interests whether of the right or the left.

    While not a philosophical parallel, the travails of the British Labour Party with the Militant Tendency in the 1960’s is a vivid example of the perils of internecine political warfare.

  6. D. M. Johnston says:

    Here is the problem.

    I am a voter that might vote for the NDP, if I thought that the party met a minimum standard to get my vote.

    Living in Delta South, my vote happily went to Ms. Huntington, but that could change.

    With James at the helm, they are not going to get my vote.

    Cut through the rhetoric and I see the NDP MLA’s seeing the longer that James stays on as party leader, their chances forming the next government diminishing.

    The Liberals will enter the arena with a new leader and a new vigor (though personally it’s just repackaged clap-trap), but the NDP, under James, will have a inept party, run by an even more inept leader who is years past her “best by date”.

    By all accounts, James is a nice lady, but as leader of her Majesties Loyal Opposition, she has been a frightful bumbler. But political leaders catch a strange disease once in power and being in office is all about them, not being about the party or the electorate.

    The good ship NDP needs to steer a new course, with a new captain, for with James at the helm, the good ship NDP is a sunk ship.

    (Response: I agree. Because she is a very nice individual, I actually have felt a little bad writing that James must go …right after the last election and more recently as well. But politics is at times a cruel game …and commenting on it is sometimes not easy when you know the individuals. I always believed the party strategists would have her leave…but not until next Spring. But now, with these attacks to no doubt conrtinue and even escalate, they should probably go to plan B: have her take a Christmas walk in the snow, or rain, or sunshine ..doesn;t matter, as long as the result is she announces her retirement to take a job offer or whatever. h.o)

  7. PeterG says:

    Rabbie Burns… not Shakespeare!

    (Response:OOPS! 🙂 h.o.

  8. sunshine coast girl says:

    Yup. Either Jenny will have to go or Carole will have to go. No other choice. Too bad Carole wasn’t smart enough to deal with this problem way before it got to the “point of no return” and created the incredible animosity being displayed by New Democrats towards each other. The yellow scarves may as well have been a spit in the face!

    (Response: I think she and her supporters underestimated the determination of those who want to get rid of her. h.o)

  9. D. M. Johnston says:

    What did someone say ….. “Political annihilation at the next election, focuses a MLA’s mind wonderfully.”

    The Liberal MLA’s understood this – adiós Gordon; the NDP MLA’s understand this and trying to get Carole to say adiós. Funny thing is Carole James doesn’t get it and from the latest reports, desperately trying to hang on to the leadership.

  10. kootcoot says:

    Peter G – I didn’t realize that Robbie Burns was a Rabbi – I guess that’s why they make haggis out of sheep guts rather than the stuff of pork rinds.

    Anyway, I would like to propose Ms. James for the position of Minister of Education in the upcoming NDP government. The idea of her as premier of BC is the “Peter Principle” writ LARGE! Cluck Cluck Christy (Gordon Campbell in drag) would wipe up the floor with Carole James – in spite of the fact that Christy’s attack ads write themselves. Of course I guess the NDP would have to pay CKNW royalties for the rights to use all of Christy’s “brilliant statements” on air.

  11. e.a.f. says:

    although many say Carol James must now dismiss Jenny Kwan from the party, she actually doesn’t have to.
    James can do what she wants and spin doctors can do the rest. Its just another head line.
    it is doubtful James will dismiss Kwan and it is doubtful Kwan will walk away from the N.D.P.
    By the time the Liberals have finished their “leadership” convention there will be so much blood on the floor the corpse will not be able to walk.
    Kwan has worked hard for the party and managed to survive, with Joy McPhail, as the only two N.D.P., M.L.A.s. in the legislature.
    Kwan also survived on Vancouver council during a time most would have thrown in the towel.
    Although many former M.L.A.s have signed a letter of support for James, they are what they are, former M.L.A.s.
    James is the transition leader, from the aging baby boomers to the next generation or the N.D.P. may simply find an aging baby boomer will lead the N.D.P. for a few years while they groom the next leader.
    It is doubtful the current crop of N.D.P., M.L.A.s will have much more success than James so if there is to be a new leader they should be looking elsewhere. That person needs to look like a good delegator, good on camera, fast with responses and have an attack pack backing them.
    Ah, the joys of living in B.C. If it weren’t for the poverty of children, the homeless, lack of support services for the disabled and seniors it would be just fun to watch the whole show. There isn’t much on t.v. anyhow.
    Now that Kwan has fired the first real shot the dance can begin.

    (Response: How could James ever justify NOT getting Kwan booted from caucus…after what happened to Simpson?? h.o)

  12. brian says:

    (Response: How could James ever justify NOT getting Kwan booted from caucus…after what happened to Simpson?? h.o)

    she cant, although it appears that she will not do what she did to Simpson…..yet. She, apparently, is going to call for an emergency meeting of top ndp officials and the caucus to discuss what should be done with Kwan. Amazing eh. Something she REFUSED to do with Simpson. LOL.

    (Response: I hope the intrepid Legislative reporters ask her why the double standard? Is it because Kwan has more backers inside caucus? Inside the party? Why? Why? Why? I find myself laughing even before I hear her explanation. LOL! h.o)

  13. e.a.f. says:

    James doesn’t have to justify not removing Kwan from caucus. People tend to forget people don’t have to respond to questions or if they do, give an answer which will serve their own purposes.
    In Kwan’s case, James just has to say, Ms. Kwan continues to be a long time valued member and the party is indebted to her for the years she and McPhail worked on their own. Simpson has never been in Kwan’s league. Comparing the two M.L.A.s is as different as comparing “apples & oranges”.
    Ms. Kwan is in a league of her own as an M.L.A. and is the longest serving M.L.A. currently in caucus. She may not have leadership asperations of her own but she may be of the opinion James has to go for the good of the party.
    There are not many people who could have done the work Kwan and McPhail did when they were all that was left of the NDP.
    Campbell refused to “recognize” them as a party and therefore they were not able to have a staff, etc.
    Look back on the old news reports. the two women were usually seen walking the corridors together and some media scrums looked like they had been backed up into a wall, well in some pictures they are actually standing right up against a wall.
    The party owes Kwan a great deal and will most likely just swallow what she says and make the best of it.

  14. patrick bell (NOT THE MLA) says:

    D. M. Johnston #6

    I agree whole heartily with that post. I’d, however, like to see a bit more of a party overhaul though….get rid of party president Moe Sahota…go back to his so-called retirement with that big fat pension he was receiving…..argg

  15. Crankypants says:

    I have to agree with your assessment of the situation. Carole set the precedent when she put Simpson on the sidelines, and she should do the same with Kwan, then Lali and all the others that have supported Kwan’s letter and subsequent press conferences if she were to be consistent. The problem is that she has had a difficult time being consistent on many issues.

    I think that the party executive blew it when they gave Carole James an 84% approval rating. They misread the rancor within the NDP caucus or just chose to put on their blinders and hope that things will work themselves out. Either way, they made a decision that could well have long-term effects on their electibility in the future. The party executive and even the party members can play games as much as they want, but ultimately, it is the voter that has the final say.

    Inevitably, she will either have to accede to a leadership review or resign. She can only send so many NDP MLAs to purgatory before she finds that ther are more MLAs sitting as independents than she has remaining in caucus. We know that there are 13 NDP MLAs that are no longer happy campers, and no doubt there are a few more that are straddling the fence, waiting to see which way the wind is blowing.

    As I see it, Carole James’ time in the sun has ended, and if she truly believes in her party, she will tender her resignation and allow someone else to take over. If not, then she will be handing the next election to the BC Liberal Party on a silver platter. And, that next election may come a whole lot sooner than she and the NDP Party think.

    (Response: You raise a really interesting issue. The pre-set election date is May 14, 2013. And the NDP no doubt believes that they can wait to see who the Libs choose as leader and then leisurely examine the new reality, have James step down, organize a leadership race, schedule and hold a convention, choose someone new, have that person tour the province , get to be known, etc before May 2013. BUT what if the new Liberal leader says, soon after being elected, he or she feels amandate from the people can;t wait til 2013, has the legislation quickly changed and calls a snap election … leaving the NDP with James and a badly split party??? I know NDP strategists read this blog…they’d better think this comment/response/possible scenario over many times … if they’re smart… and act sooner than later. h.o.

  16. sunshine coast girl says:

    I know NDP strategists read all the blogs and the suggestion that the newly appointed Lieberal leader could call a snap election has been made several times. It seems they are unwilling to believe that could happen and are putting all their eggs in one basket and HOPING it won’t so Carole can attempt to salvage her leadership. They really believe she can win an election regardless of what voters have to say.

    Remember the button distributed at Provincial Council along with the yellow scarves? Doer…Dexter….James. Making the point that both Doer and Dexter ran a couple times before they won enough to be Premier. Unfortunately, they didn’t point out that with Doer and Dexter all of Manitoba and Nova Scotia’s voters weren’t making it very clear that they would never support Doer or Dexter as Premier, as they are here in BC with Carole. Doer was never personally held responsible for the 1988 loss and I worked in Nova Scotia in 2006. Dexter was popular; just not popular enough. Everyone liked him. So strategists were comparing apples and oranges with their button. No similarity at all. Was actually a bit dishonest and I didn’t like it.

  17. Terrence says:

    I am sure that ANY new liberal leader would call a new election – to establish their own mandate (as you say, Harv), and to stick it to the NDP, especially if the NDP is still in a mess with respect to their leader. Both of these moves would establish the new liberal leader as decisive and pro-active.

    I really do not think the NDP can wait until mid- to late 2011 or 2012, let alone 2013, to sort out their leadership – the sooner they do, the better for them, and they will be less likely to hand the liberals yet another edge and to shot themselves in BOTH feet.

    (Response: I agree. The timing has changed …now that the knives are openly out and I suspect the attacks will only increase. The membership have to send hat message to the provincial council… now. h.o)

  18. mariner says:

    With Moe Sihota in the backround pulling strings !!

    Maybe James should step down and take Moe Sihota with her – for the good of the NDP party !

  19. Spectre1 says:

    Neville Chamberlain . . . aka Carole James shows how gutless an appeaser she is with this on-line petition asking for “your” support in the leadership challenge against her.
    If this

  20. Dave R says:

    It’s hard to support a political party that comes over as being simply the “lesser of two evils”, and unfortunately in the past decade that’s really all we’ve had from the NDP… “we’re not Gordon Campbell” isn’t a platform on which to base a political party, and NDP gains in the polls have largely been because of the self-destruction of the BC Liberals and their former (but still in charge) leader. There has been little given by the Opposition to grasp the imagination and inspire the electorate to get involved – I think the record-low voter turnout in 2009 (which broke another low in 2005) proves this fact.

    I’ve mentioned before that Carole James’ ambition to do something about Child Poverty in BC, improving health care, and raising the minimum wage are very, very praiseworthy – but her platform released on Tuesday was like a car rolled onto a display with a new paint-job and shiny chrome… but we’re not allowed to see what’s under the hood! I think Ms. James has very laudable dreams for this province; unfortunately, I don’t think she has the political skills or the economic foresight to make them a reality.

    As you said, Jenny Kwan will go this weekend under Ms. James’ rules. Whether she will can the remaining 12 of the “Baker’s Dozen” and thereby gut the provincial NDP remains to be seen.

    Ah… only in BC, and only with the NDP. With drama like this, who needs soap operas or reality television?

    (Response: It’s all fun for those of us who are political junkies ..whether it’s the turmoil of the Libs or NDP. But it must be very frustrating for partisan followers of either party as they watch them self-destruct. h.o.)

  21. Wendy says:

    With this gong show going on with all the elected officials, I would really like to know Who is running the damned province and taking care of business. It is an embarassment to even admit to living in the province of BC anymore. God help us all that cannot afford to put up with this crap.

    (Response; I think this is a good time to set up a new company… Rent a Gov. Between the BC government and Ottawa’s minority gov, which could fall on almost any issue, …it should keep Rent a Gov in the black fairly regularly. h.o)

  22. 13 says:

    I was once a card carrying NDPer. Ive worked as a trade union member since 1973. The provincial NDP moved from far left to left of center and I lost interest in them. As they decided to try to be everyones savior at any cost to the tax payer I decide to try the liberals.
    If Gordo could have seen this NDP train wreck he might have laid low and tried for some sort of miracle come back.

    There were very few things that could spoil the NDPs triumphant return to power. Nothing could stop them now. Whanna bet.

  23. e.a.f. says:

    Nobody has to do what they don’t want to, they may have to suffer the consequences but that’s another story. If you’re a gambler, you just roll the dice and see what happens.
    If James doesn’t want to or can’t dismiss Kwan from caucus she won’t. simpson simply isnt in Kwan’s league.
    All James has to do is ignore it all.
    It may turn out Kwan has more support, within the party. than James.

    I haven’t seen anything about the NDP meeting, beyond it has been posponed. I think its just see who blinks first.

    (Response: Simpson is not in Kwan’s league? So much for equality in the NDP. h.o)

  24. Dave R says:

    Carole James is announcing her resignation!


    With both the Liberals AND the NDP now hunting for new, electable leadership… commence au festival!!

Comments are closed.