Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is much admired by Bob Simpson, the NDP MLA whose expulsion from the caucus in October forms part of the chain of critical events that led to the resignation today (December 6) of Carole James as party leader.
But those wishing to see Robertson riding to the rescue of the deeply divided party will be disappointed, according to the executive director of the mayor’s Vision Vancouver party.
“All I can say really is he’s been very clear to Vision,” Ian Baillie told the Straight about Robertson. “He’s running for mayor. He stated that on many different occasions. He plans to run again for mayor.”
The NDP may choose a new leader in early 2011. The next municipal election is set for November of next year.
Baillie said that he’s amused but not surprised that many have been asking him whether or not Robertson is going back to provincial politics.
“I think clearly he’s a very well-liked figure,” the Vision executive director said. “He’s perceived to have done a really good job. When you have that sort of qualities in a potential candidate, people naturally want to go out and recruit that candidate.”
A former NDP MLA, Robertson was elected mayor of Vancouver in November 2008.
“No, it’s not surprising for me at all that people would want him to run but it’s becoming a little bit more surprising because he’s stated several times that he’s planning to run for mayor,” Baillie added.
Robertson issued a statement today in response to James's resignation.
"I want to thank Carole James for her service and dedication to our province. As Opposition Leader, she was a tireless and passionate advocate for the people of BC. In the partisan and often gruelling world of provincial politics, she carried herself with dignity. Carole brought a thoughtful, more respectful tone to provincial politics and I wish her all the best in her next endeavours," Robertson stated.
“As Mayor, I look forward to continuing to work with all members of the legislature to ensure we get results for Vancouver on issues like affordable housing, transit, public safety, and the economy."
In a separate phone interview, Bill Saunders, president of the Vancouver and District Labour Council, said a new NDP leader should be able to unify the group that supported James and the one that called on her to step down.
“The person, whoever he or she may be, has to be widely acceptable to both groups,” Saunders told the Straight.