NDP veteran Corky Evans accuses Carole James of castigating MLAs who came to her in confidence

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      An elder statesman of the B.C. NDP has put a decidedly new wrinkle on the dispute within the party's caucus.

      In an open letter, former cabinet minister Corky Evans writes that a group of NDP MLAs concluded a few weeks ago that it was necessary to hold a leadership convention.

      They signed a letter, and a small group met with James to convey their concerns.

      "Both the letter and the meeting were private," Evans notes in the letter. "It was assumed that they would always remain private, because that is the way it has always been done."

      He points out that this has occurred numerous times in the past in his party. Evans writes that MLAs have signed letters in confidence or met in confidence with other leaders—including Bob Skelly, Mike Harcourt, and Glen Clark—to suggest they should resign.

      Evans states that in keeping with historical tradition, James had the "absolute right to consider their intervention and decide to take their advice or reject it".

      But Evans claims that unlike every other leader who has been approached in confidence in this manner, James "chose to respond in a different, and utterly unpredictable manner".

      "She advised others in her Caucus and staff what had happened and named the MLA's who had come, in confidence, to see her and then proceeded to turn the upcoming Provincial Council meeting into an opportunity to divide the signatories of the letter, and their supporters, from the rest of the Party," Evans writes.

      Then James and her supporters decided to expose those who signed the letter at the Provincial Council meeting in Victoria on November 20.

      "As we walked into the hotel the morning of the Provincial Council meeting, staff members stood in the hallway outside the meeting room and gave yellow scarves to everyone EXCEPT the folks they knew had signed or delivered the letter, and a few of the rest of us they figured might support the 13 signatories," Evans maintains. "The result was surreal."

      He claims it was "the most divisive thing I have ever witnessed" in the NDP.

      "The MLA's who had NOT signed the letter asking Carol [sic] to resign were identified, in front of their peers and the Press, as Loyal and Good," Evans notes. "Thus, the folks WITHOUT the yellow scarves were immediately and publically [sic] identified as Disloyal and Bad."

      He claims that everyone involved in signing the letter intended their message to remain private except for James.

      "The [provincial council] meeting opened, as they all do, with a reading of the Parties Harassment Policy," Evans writes. "If I,or any of us, had our wits about us, we would have responded by pointing out that the scarves, themselves, constituted Harassment of the worst kind. I am sorry to say that this appropriate response didn't occur to me until some days later."

      He also claims that James did something he had never heard of before—which was "to publicize and castigate MLA's who, rightly or wrongly, thought they were acting in confidence and in the best interests of their Party".

      "She could have told them they were wrong and stayed in her job," the letter reads. "This has been done before in parliamentary democracies, probably hundreds of times."

      He adds that James could have accepted the advice and stepped down as leader, perhaps remaining as an MLA.

      "That, too, has happened before, probably hundreds of times," Evans writes. "Instead, she chose to do something I have never heard of before...and publically [sic] attacked those who came to her in confidence."

      He also takes exception to NDP president Moe Sihota's ruling that it was unconstitutional to bring forward motions to urge the leader to reinstate MLA Bob Simpson into caucus.

      "This change to the agenda was simply wrong," Evans claims. "Nobody in the room had wanted to 'instruct' the Leader how to do her job. The motion simply said the Leader be 'urged' to reinstate Bob Simpson. The party has the right to 'urge' the Leader to do anything they want. We could 'urge' the Leader to stand on her head for an hour a day if we wanted, and she has the perfect right to ignore the advice..."

      Evans concludes his letter by saying the real issue is about "the democratization, or not, of how we do politics". He adds that this problem isn't limited to the NDP, noting that similar concerns have been expressed recently by members of the B.C. Liberals, the federal Liberals, and the Alberta Conservatives.

      "As a new Democrat, I am heartsick at the troubles and I fervently wish Carol [sic] James had not orchestrated the public division of her Caucus," Evans states in his final paragraph. "As a citizen, I am hopeful that the democratic process in Canada is being reborn. As her friend and supporter, I will go where Jenny Kwan goes, come what may."

      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.




      Dec 3, 2010 at 10:05am

      Go get them Corky.
      Hell when Corky first got elected, he didn't even own a suit to campaign in and had to buy one for the swearing-in ceremony.
      Too bad Jim Fulton is no longer with us...because Corky could grab him, the Righteous Gang of 13, make a party and form the next government.
      Oh a legit third party would be nice -- even a block of 5 or 6 votes in the legislature would provide more accountability and opposition than what the NDP has provided.
      The added bonus would be seeing Canwest Global tie themselves in knots trying to frame the 'bad guy' (socialist hordes! vs. Green fascists! or um...Abbot or Falcon...yea team!;-) and thus look as ineffectual, corrupt and clueless as the Business parties that protect their monopolies.


      Dec 3, 2010 at 10:54am

      From this it souinds like Carole James does not have the good of the party at heart but is there for the power trip and her own ego.


      Dec 3, 2010 at 11:11am

      (i started out only intending to say: "Elder statesman? Now you really make me feel old..." ;)
      But - this makes me heartsick too. I left the party many years ago with a heavy heart, and have watched it slide since Harcourt was hamstrung by the party establishment & Clark set up by the mainstream media - brought down by the forces of stupidity.
      But they are family, in my blood, and this just makes me sadder than ever. I fervently hope Corky and Jenny can gather the best and the brightest and bring a new horizon to the BC NDP. We need them so badly now.


      Dec 3, 2010 at 11:14am

      It almost sounds like Carol does the old bullying style old Gordo was doing, It's my way or you are out simple as that. Well Carol wake up you lost the last two elections and you will not win the next one either.If Christy Clark or Donald Duck wins the Liberal leadership you still and wont have a chance in hell of winning. Do the right thing and step down for the party. You are why I wont vote for the NDP like I have for so many years in the past . I will vote for the Rhinos first before I vote for you . Have a nice day.

      good idea

      Dec 3, 2010 at 11:33am

      Hey Corky,

      Since the boundary change put your home in Katrine's riding, why don't you move to Nelson and take on the so-far James loyalist Michelle Mungall?

      So far, she's shown little but the worrisome judgment one might expect from a young but life-long politician. I will trust her more after a few seasons of horse-logging!

      Michael Gix

      Dec 3, 2010 at 12:21pm

      No wonder Ms. James has lost the confidence of a sizable portion of her caucus. Look at the bully tactics she employs to intimidate and stifle dissenting opinions.

      Kent MacInnes

      Dec 3, 2010 at 12:42pm

      Another indication that there is any difference in how parties are operated and never to the benefit of the general electorate. Only as preservation of power movements, whti actual ideology taking second seat at best.

      Strong New Democrat

      Dec 3, 2010 at 3:22pm

      Corky is an old has been, wannabe leader who failed in two bids for the Leadership. He had a job to do at the Prv. Council meeting and he failed to deliver the message he was instructed to give by his constituency. He did not make the case for a Leadership Convention as per his instructions. He then did a lot of whining.

      He was upset at Moe because Moe was smart enough to arrange his own compensation and Corky hadn't thought of that himself. He was mad because he would have run for president if he had only known and mean ol Moe hadn't told him! Poor Corky!

      Corky is a self centred greedy old has been.

      David Emerscam

      Dec 3, 2010 at 3:44pm

      '...it was "the most divisive thing I have ever witnessed" in the NDP.'

      holy cow!

      Dec 3, 2010 at 3:46pm

      Corky is on the scene!

      Recruit this guy NDP he will win it for everyone - left, right and middle!