Kicked out of the B.C. NDP’s legislative caucus two years ago, now-independent MLA Bob Simpson faces a tough battle to keep his seat. New Democrats are determined to take back Cariboo North in the May 14 provincial election.
“I guess Bob would get some votes for being Bob,” the party’s constituency-association president, Brian Kennelly, told the Straight in a phone interview. “But a lot of the work and a lot of the votes were because he was an NDP member who embraced the NDP philosophy and platform.”
Simpson got the boot in October 2010 after he criticized then–B.C. NDP Leader Carole James. The two-term MLA indicated to the Straight that the difference between what a party politician and an independent can offer voters will decide what happens to the seat.
“The general public is very tired of the party system and what the parties have done to distort our democratic process,” Simpson said by phone. “In the last two elections, I remember having to swallow hard myself as an NDP candidate, saying: ‘Look, elect me and I’ll go down to Victoria and represent you,’ when in fact, right from the get-go, the party has made it pretty clear that your first loyalty is to the party and your second loyalty is to the people.”
Local New Democrats will hold a nomination vote on Sunday (January 20) between former Cariboo Regional District director Duncan Barnett and Quesnel city councillor Sushil Thapar.
“I’m expecting that the [2013 provincial] election is going to be a pretty good three-way race,” Barnett told the Straight by phone. The B.C. Liberals are running Coralee Oakes. Barnett, a rancher, says he expects B.C. NDP leader and James’s successor, Adrian Dix, to show up at the nomination meeting.
The Green Party of B.C. isn’t fielding candidates in Cariboo North or Delta South, which are both represented by independents. Green leader Jane Sterk told the Straight by phone that this makes it more likely the independent MLAs will be reelected.