Ex-B.C. NDP president Sav Dhaliwal says leader Adrian Dix and president Moe Sihota should resign
Burnaby councillor Sav Dhaliwal had a difficult election night on May 14.
As a media commentator on Omni TV, the former NDP president publicly predicted early in the evening that his party would win a majority government.
As the election broadcast ended with another B.C. Liberal majority, he confessed to viewers: "I must have been on a different planet because I completely misjudged this."
Three months later in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, Dhaliwal said that he's concluded Adrian Dix should resign.
"I'm not asking him to leave today," Dhaliwal said, "but I do believe it would be a disservice to the membership to put us through a leadership review."
He cited the party blowing a 20-percent lead in the polls and the NDP campaign failing "to move the electorate, volunteers and supporters to a point of winning the election".
"The bottom line is he wasn't able to do that," Dhaliwal said. "And I see nothing changing four years from now."
He added that he believes Dix would have been a "great premier". But Dhaliwal says an election loss isn't as a result of just one or two errors along the way.
"I think it's a lot of how you are perceived and how well people listen to you," the four-term municipal councillor said. "They did not listen to us. They didn't hear what we had to say. It was the communication; it was the presentation; it was the presence. All those things add up."
He noted that the party lost momentum in this election, which is a key reason why he feels Dix must step aside as leader.
Dhaliwal said that if Dix resigns, he hopes that the caucus will select an interim leader and schedule a leadership convention in 2015.
"I'm hoping over the next few weeks, before people start selecting delegates for the convention, there's a clear indication from Adrian that he is going to be leaving."
Dhaliwal also thinks Moe Sihota should go
Dhaliwal was party president in 2009 before former NDP cabinet minister Moe Sihota was elected to this position at a convention later that year.
Now, Dhaliwal thinks there needs to be new hands at the top of the party apparatus.
"I think the NDP supporters and NDP members are looking for a totally different approach to fight campaigns, a different approach to our communications strategy," he said. "I think it is very important for the current leadership, both at the party and the caucus level, to really step aside."
He noted that the president has "a fair amount of hands-on responsibility" in the candidate-selection process.
He also said that the party—not the caucus—has full responsibility for the election campaign. And according to Dhaliwal, the party needs younger blood.
Dhaliwal added that Sihota, as president, was in a position to claim credit had the party won the 2013 election.
The Burnaby councillor said that similarly, Sihota must be held to account for the NDP blowing a 20-percentage-point lead.
"If you didn't do your best, you shouldn't have been there to begin with," Dhaliwal stated. "If you did [your best] and that wasn't anywhere close to good enough...that is time for self-realization and to say 'I believe somebody else should get an opportunity to do the job that I was doing.' "
Provincial secretary also urged to quit
Not only does Dhaliwal think that Dix and Sihota should leave their positions, but he's also calling upon provincial secretary Jan O'Brien to resign.
O'Brien, wife of Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs, is the senior staff person in the party—in effect, the CEO.
That's because Dhaliwal thinks the job is a "pressure cooker" that eventually burns people out.
"It is not a position that you think you're going to make a career of," he said. "It's a sprint that you should go through—and you do it for a certain amount of time—and you're done with it, because you cannot just carry on with the stamina that it requires and it demands....I think the shelf life of a provincial secretary is probably one election cycle."
Derek Corrigan's name floated as leader
In the last NDP leadership campaign, Dhaliwal supported NDP house leader John Horgan's candidacy.
The former NDP president said that he thinks Horgan would have probably fared better than Dix on the campaign trail because he wasn't as closely linked in the public mind to the NDP government during the 1990s.
"I'll wait and see if there are a few candidates like John Horgan," Dhaliwal stated. "I would give him a serious look."
However, Dhaliwal is also hoping somebody steps forward with progressive ideas and who's achieved community recognition for professional and business success.
He includes Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan—husband of Burnaby–Deer Lake NDP MLA Kathy Corrigan—in that category.
And Dhaliwal said that he would be "very happy" if Corrigan put his name forward in the next NDP leadership race.
The Burnaby councillor revealed that he and others tried to persuade Corrigan to run for the NDP leadership in 2011, but the mayor refused. Instead, Corrigan ran for reelection and his party won every seat on council and the school board.
"I think he would be formidable...because he is well-versed in the issues," Dhaliwal declared. "He knows how to present them and has a track record a mile long of success. At the regional level, he is a mover and shaker."
In addition, Dhaliwal said that Corrigan has a demonstrated interest and knowledge of local, national, and international issues.
Dhaliwal pointed out that many business people have supported the reelection of Corrigan's Burnaby Citizens' Association, even though the candidates are card-carrying members of the NDP.
That's because the city's planning process has focused development in four town centres, resulting in a stable investment climate. Burnaby has also paid a great deal of attention to environmental sustainability, though the mayor has sometimes come under criticism for not doing enough for the homeless in his community.
In 2009 with Corrigan at the helm, Maclean's magazine named Burnaby as the best-run city in Canada based on a series of benchmarks measured by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.
"Lean, debt-free, and offering great public services, Burnaby is a model for the country," Maclean's declared at the time.
Dhaliwal is proud of his city's record.
"On the one hand, you have to make sure you can provide services to the public—the social-service net—but the other side is recognizing that the economy is important to all of us."