Earlier this week, the Globe and Mail's Gary Mason wrote a fairly despicable column about the B.C. NDP.
Rather than recognizing that people within the NDP are deeply concerned about the party losing the next election, Mason suggested that everything was going just fine with Carole James at the helm.
He stated that there was a "faint odour of sexism" in the opposition to James. "For a party that likes to flaunt its feminist credentials, it’s all really quite unseemly," Mason wrote.
Today, four female B.C. NDP MLAs sent a very powerful signal that the internal opposition to James is anything but sexist.
The party's second-highest ranking female caucus member, Katrine Conroy, quit as the party whip on the eve of the NDP provincial council meeting in Victoria.
At her news conference, she was accompanied by NDP MLAs Jenny Kwan, Lana Popham, and Claire Trevena.
They didn't say anything disparaging about James because they've seen what's happened to others who've questioned the party's direction under her leadership.
MLA Bob Simpson was thrown out without even a caucus meeting. Prior to the last election, Mabel Elmore, who represents Vancouver-Kensington, was publicly humiliated for uttering the word "Zionist". And Michael Sather was kicked out of caucus for questioning the loss of farmland in the Tsawwassen treaty.
James is facing an internal revolt not only because of these authoritarian tendencies. It's also because she has demonstrated a lack of imagination on the policy front and not stood up for B.C.'s poorest residents.
This message has not percolated through to the mainstream media yet. This was despite the devastating final speech in the legislature in 2009 by then-MLA David Chudnovsky about the centralization of power in the premier's office.
Chudnovsky did not seek reelection even though it cost him an MLA pension. It was another signal that all was not well within the B.C. NDP
Kwan, who represents Vancouver-Mount Pleasant, has consistently promoted policies to benefit those suffering from extreme poverty, addiction, and homelessness. She has received very little support from her leader, who has been silent on the need for more supervised-injection sites across the Lower Mainland.
Popham, the rookie NDP MLA for Saanich South, has been an articulate proponent of protecting farmland and promoting food security. She also has received very little public help from the leader on this issue. This is most evident in James's apparent lack of interest in peak oil.
Trevena, NDP MLA for North Island, has taken a huge political risk by standing up to the fish-farming industry on northern Vancouver Island. James has done little publicly to help her in these efforts.
James's defenders and their friends in the media, including Mason, can try to dress this up as a sexist takeout of the leader. The reality is very different, as today's news conference clearly demonstrated.
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.