B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan faces new challenges in wake of federal party's lack of confidence in Tom Mulcair

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      There's been a lot to digest from this weekend's NDP convention in Edmonton.

      Delegates repudiated Tom Mulcair's leadership, voting 52 percent in favour of holding a leadership race, despite his long-running campaign to keep his job.

      Mulcair was supported by many high-profile B.C. New Democrats. In light of what happened, they might want to consider if they're out of step with a large portion of the party's grassroots.

      Mulcair's supporters included Burnaby–New Westminster MP Peter Julian, Skeena–Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, former Vancouver Granville NDP candidate Mira Oreck, and former Vancouver Centre NDP candidate Constance Barnes.

      All publicly said that Mulcair should keep his job as leader.

      I also noticed CUPE B.C. president Paul Faoro standing alongside Mulcair after he gave his speech to delegates in Edmonton.

      Prominent B.C. New Democrats who've done heavy lifting for Mulcair in this province include veteran campaign manager Glen Sanford and UBC political scientist Michael Byers.

      Many of the same people have been backing B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan as he's been pursuing a centrist approach in hope of defeating the B.C. Liberals. Horgan is relying heavily on Oreck to help chart the proper course for the next provincial election campaign.

      In many respects, Horgan is carrying on in the tradition of a former B.C. NDP leader, Carole James, who cowrote the party's moderate platform in 2013. She's currently the B.C. NDP finance critic.

      In the meantime, many progressives appear to be fed up with the almost Blairite direction that the NDP has been moving toward in the 21st century. (For more on that, read this review of Brad Lavigne's book, Building the Orange Wave.)

      The moderate approach almost worked in 2011 when the charismatic Jack Layton nearly led the NDP to its first national victory. But nowadays with the rise of U.S. senator Bernie Sanders's campaign and the growing realization that the game is rigged in favour of the rich, many young people are turning away from the mainstream style of a Mulcair-type politician.

      Many want urgent action to address the climate crisis, as well as justice for First Nations. They want the party to listen more to social movements. 

      It's something that Horgan, in particular, is trying to address by taking a harder line on the Site C dam and opposing the Pacific NorthWest LNG project.

      But for nearly two decades, the B.C. NDP has been exceedingly cautious about triggering a backlash in the mainstream media. Horgan, in particular, has advocated policies around energy and environmental issues that won't generate a firestorm of criticism from the right.

      In this regard, he's the provincial equivalent of a Mulcair: moderate, reasonable, level-headed, and risk-averse. And like Mulcair battling Justin Trudeau, Horgan faces a charismatic and unpredictable opponent, Premier Christy Clark, who will zig-zag in different directions to win votes.

      Horgan's likely not looking forward to a federal NDP leadership race occurring as he's trying to secure an election victory in May 2017. As a result of today's vote, the B.C. NDP will probably be raising money just as federal leadership candidates are tapping some of the same people for cash.

      Another concern is leadership candidates advocating out-of-the-box policies, like an inheritance tax or keeping all fossil fuels in the ground, that could blow back on provincial New Democrats. Clark will be quick to exploit any opportunities.

      All things considered, this wasn't a good day for Horgan.