NDP MLA Jenny Kwan slams Carole James, calls for leadership race

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      Jenny Kwan isn’t ruling out the prospect of running for leader of the provincial NDP.

      “Right now that’s not my top priority,” Kwan told the Straight in a phone interview, after she issued a statement on December 1 calling for change in the party’s leadership. “What I would like to see is [the NDP] to have a leadership convention.”

      The long-time Vancouver–Mount Pleasant MLA also indicated that she’s not leaving the NDP caucus despite having publicly criticized the leadership of Carole James.

      “I believe that my party is worth fighting for, and I’m going to do everything to fight for our party and to fight for democracy within our party,” she said. “And I think that the time has come for change and renewal. I think that to ensure that our membership has a voice in this, we would actually have a leadership convention—a one-member, one-vote leadership convention—as soon as possible.”

      Kwan’s call found support in Nicholas Simons, NDP MLA for Powell River–Sunshine Coast.

      “We need a leader who’s capable of making sure that we provide a strong vision for the province,” Simons told the Straight in a phone interview. “I think that it’s essential we are positioned in such a place so we can show people that we’re not just the second-worst choice. We need to be progressive. We need to be a party that respects divergent views.”

      Kwan and Simons are two of the 13 NDP MLAs who were seen not wearing yellow scarves in support of James at the party’s recent provincial council meeting in Victoria.

      “A leadership race would invigorate and strengthen the party, I believe, through rigorous debate that allows people to present a platform or a position that gives encouragement and enthusiasm for progressive policies for the future,” Simons said.

      In her statement, Kwan cited the lack of democracy in the NDP under James.

      “Debate has been stifled, decision-making centralized, and individual MLAs marginalized,” Kwan stated.

      She also noted that several members of the caucus are “shocked at how some critical decisions are made or how caucus decisions have been later altered”.

      “Equally dismaying is how MLAs then learn about these decisions through the media,” she wrote. “This poor decision-making practice and a lack of genuine consultation within our Caucus is an ongoing source of frustration for many within the Caucus.”

      Kwan also pointed to the “clear lack of direction” by the party. “Whenever a challenging policy decision arises, often the default position is to avoid taking a stand,” she stated.

      In the interview, Kwan indicated that the last straw for her was the “backroom deal” that provided compensation for party president Moe Sihota.

      “I firmly believe that backroom deals should have no place in today’s politics,” Kwan said. “Carole James knew about this deal, and she didn’t intervene. Our caucus only recently was informed of this arrangement. If we are going to ensure that we have the trust of British Columbians, then I would say that engaging in such questionable practices is a recipe for disaster.”




      Dec 1, 2010 at 3:35pm

      To quote Jenny: <blockquote>“I believe that my party is worth fighting for, and I’m going to do everything to fight for our party and to fight for democracy within our party,” </blockquote>

      You don't fight for democracy within the party by destroying the party. The BC NDP democratically voted for a Leadership review at Convention in 2011. Jenny Kwan doesn't believe in democratic rights and wants one now.


      Dec 1, 2010 at 4:01pm

      I'm of the opinion that the CJ faction is already destroying the party. I don't see the NDP winning the next election if this continues. I'm behind Jenny 100% and I hope that those who wield power at all levels of the NDP wake up and see that CJ has had her chance.

      Thomas Diaz

      Dec 1, 2010 at 4:44pm

      Hmm, looks like the NDP staffers are out in forse trying to discredit the hardest working MLA in BC. Jenny knows what she's talking about, she was one half of the best opposition BC had ever seen. She knows what leads to disaster, and she knows what is needed to regain trust. The Carole sympathizers shouldn't fool themselves. Had it not been for Jenny's hard work, Carole would have never enjoyed the success she did in 2005. When CJ had to do the work herself we all saw the result...no movement, no growth, and hundreds of volunteers and donors that stayed at home.

      Way to go Jenny! One of the few NDP MLAs with principles, something that CJ and Moe have beaten out of the party with vigour.

      Terry Yauk

      Dec 1, 2010 at 5:08pm

      It is awesome! BURN BURN BURN, BURN the party to the ground

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      Dec 1, 2010 at 5:37pm

      “We need a leader who’s capable of making sure that we provide a strong vision for the province...blah blah blah”

      Screw your "vision",
      you are in government to SERVE us, not LEAD us.

      When are these career politicians going to get it?
      We are NOT accepting "leaders" at the moment.
      Only REPRESENTATIVES need apply.

      Representatives are politicians who do what they're told by the majority of their constituents, even when they disagree personally with public opinion. It's known as "representative democracy."

      That said, anyone's better than Carole. Go Jenny.
      Just keep your "visions" to yourself.


      Dec 1, 2010 at 9:01pm

      As a long time supporter of the NDP provincially and federally, I was dismayed to see them implode as Gordon Campbell's Liberals outperformed each other as clowns in a three-ring circus...but the last straw for me was seeing slimy Moe take over as NDP president and, of course, immediately start taking care of himself first. When collective vision goes, ethics soon follows as it's every person for him/herself on a sinking ship. If the NDP wants my support, including my vote, call a leadership convention and clear the air. But first, get rid of Moe. I mean, c'mon, we're talking political credibility here! And right now, the NDP ain't got it, I'm sad to say.


      Dec 1, 2010 at 10:33pm

      Part of what the NDP needs is a leader who can take a credible stand on the climate crisis. Unfortunately, Carole James took a very stupid stand against the carbon tax and then flip flopped back and forth on freeway expansion.

      Regardless of what she really believes, most swing Green / NDP voters see James as being a de-facto climate change denier. It seems too late to undo the damage.


      Dec 1, 2010 at 10:45pm

      Hmm, looks like the NDP staffers are out in forse trying to discredit the hardest working MLA in BC. Jenny knows what she's talking about,...

      That's funny. And someone else said the staffers are out. That I can believe having read this.

      Rod Smelser

      East Van Arts

      Dec 2, 2010 at 7:28am

      For many of us, the problem is Carole James' lack of policy and intellectual substance. Her fundamental offering has, to date, been a sweet smile and a wan hope.

      This is simply not good enough.

      BC is a resource-based economy. Our leaders -- especially on the left -- are obligated to talk deeply and well about the forest, mining, energy, fishery, tourist, industrial and agricultural economies. We are not Florida. We cannot earn a living by selling coconuts and backrubs.

      Can one reader name even one substantive and sustained case made by Carole James about the future of our resource economy? Not one? So it seems.

      She is OBLIGATED, as a New Democrat, to defend and advocate for BC Hydro. It is the single most important tool for energy allocation and sustained growth in the province. For 50 years BC Hydro has made us the envy of the continent. Its assets are owned by ALL the people. Its applications can serve ALL the people.

      The Liberals (as with BC Rail) have been systematically undermining, disowning and hampering BC Hydro. With their incessant reorganizations, their phony run-of-river schemes (guaranteed profits for private owners), and their adamant refusal to make Hydro what it could be, this great public asset is in jeopardy.

      Where has Carole James been in this? Smiling contentedly.

      We are a resource economy. Those who want to spend public wealth for the public good are obligated to show some interest in the sources of that wealth.

      While the Liberals dismantle BC Hydro, Carole James talks about school lunches. This is not remotely good enough.

      Pat Cro

      Dec 2, 2010 at 10:08am

      The fact that James will not accept the obvious lack of voter and party support speaks to the kind of provincial leader she would make. Dictatorial and non compromising. Enough of this nonsense, the people deserve a concrete solution to the Liberals corporate theft and dismantling of the taxpayers assets. NOW!