Premier Gordon Campbell's resignation guarantees Carole James will lead NDP in next election
Premier Gordon Campbell’s sudden resignation today (November 3) caught most British Columbians by surprise.
That’s because just last week, he shook up his cabinet. And he delivered a rare provincewide televised address, in which he announced a 15-percent cut in personal income taxes and left an impression that he wasn’t going to quit.
But something happened over the past few days to turn those plans upside down. It could have been another poll. Maybe he knew his caucus was going to tell him to take a hike.
One thing is clear: the next B.C. election will likely take place well before 2013.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that the next leader of the B.C. Liberal party will be chosen within the next seven months.
It’s unlikely that this person will sit as premier for almost two years without a mandate from the electorate.
But wait. Didn’t the B.C. Liberals under Campbell’s leadership introduce fixed-election dates, which means the next voting day is scheduled for May 14, 2013?
They certainly did. However, the effect of that law was put in doubt by a Federal Court of Appeal ruling last May.
Three justices unanimously ruled that the federal fixed-election law did not preclude Prime Minister Stephen Harper from calling a snap election in 2008.
According to the Ottawa-based public-interest group Democracy Watch, which lost the case, the ruling “effectively cancelled” B.C.’s fixed-election law and similar laws in other provinces.
The coast appears to be clear for the next B.C. Liberal leader to call a snap election well ahead of May 14, 2013.
Meanwhile, the B.C. NDP won’t hold a leadership vote until its November 2011 convention.
If NDP delegates give the thumbs down to Leader Carole James, the party wouldn’t be able to hold a leadership convention until 2012 at the earliest.
By that time, the next B.C. Liberal leader will have probably already called an election.
Campbell’s decision to resign today has likely guaranteed that his successor will be running against James, who has lost two provincial elections as leader.
The last B.C. NDP leader to lose three consecutive elections was Dave Barrett in 1975, 1979, and 1983.
With James registering a mere 27 percent approval rating in an Angus Reid Strategies poll last month, things are looking up for the B.C. Liberals.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.