MP Kennedy Stewart may run for B.C. NDP leader
Burnaby-Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart is looking like a potential serious contender for B.C. NDP leader.
Although Stewart said he hasn’t decided if he wants the job of outgoing provincial party leader Adrian Dix, he seems to be off to a good start.
“I had people offering some support as well as funding to start moving ahead,” Stewart told the Straight in a phone interview. “By December, by the time everybody stopped doing things for the holidays, I had a good team of about 30 people from around the province, and I’m close to $200,000 in pledges.”
While those pledges aren’t money in the bank yet, he’ll have an advantage if he jumps in because leadership races are expensive exercises.
In 2011, Dix spent more than $216,000 to clinch the post. The Vancouver-Kingsway MLA outspent runner-up and Port Coquitlam representative Mike Farnworth, who blew just over $119,000.
In the last contest, hopefuls had to shell out an entrance fee of $15,000 for the privilege of joining the contest.
According to Stewart, he began receiving calls sometime in October, when Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan, who came third behind Dix and Farnworth in 2011, made it known that he will not seek to succeed Dix.
Following the B.C. NDP’s unexpected defeat in the May 2013 provincial election, Dix announced in September that he would step down.
This news soon led to a parade of New Democrat MPs pondering heading up the provincial party. However, Nathan Cullen, Peter Julian, Fin Donnelly, and Jinny Sims have all decided not to enter the race, leaving Stewart as the remaining federal politician who looks interested. “The field is narrowing,” Stewart said.
Farnworth hasn’t made an official announcement about his plans but is considered by many to be the front-runner.
Former Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali previously told the Straight he has heard that first-term Vancouver–Point Grey MLA David Eby is gearing up for the fight.
Stewart indicated that he hasn’t gone to members of the B.C. NDP’s legislative caucus to ask for their support.
“What MLAs will need to hear in terms of supporting you is what kind of organizers you have,” Stewart said. “So what I’ve been focusing on is the organizers, people that can help you plan around the province, people that can help you sign up members.”
Stewart first ran for MP in Vancouver Centre in 2004 but lost. He is currently on leave from Simon Fraser University, where he is an associate professor at the school of public policy.
“It’s interesting being in federal Parliament: you’re thinking about British Columbia from the perspective of Ottawa, and I think B.C. gets a bad deal,” Stewart said of why he’s considering provincial politics.
As for the B.C. NDP, he thinks that the party needs to do a better job of telling people about what matters most to them. “We need to have a different approach to how we speak about and plan for the economy,” Stewart said.
The B.C. NDP leadership convention will be held in September.