Little more than 24 hours after yesterday’s last minute cancellation of the caucus meeting, Carole James has announced that she is resigning as the leader of the BC NDP Party as soon as the caucus selects an interim leader.
My own personal feelings for James aside, I really do believe that this is in the best interest of British Columbians and the party. After nearly 8 years of James’ stay-the-course game plan, it’s time that we get fired up and passionate about politics again; two new party leaders within one year can do this.
British Columbians have a long standing history of being largely cynical or apathetic when it comes to politics and politicians but things have shifted over the course of this year. First we saw the first ever successful petition drive to combat the so called “Harmonized Sales Tax”. Read that again: the first ever successful petition drive. In Canada. The threshold for a successful petition drive – or rather, initiative – in Canada has long been considered impossible to achieve. ”The proponent…has 90 days to collect signatures of 10% of the registered voters in each electoral district.” BC has some pretty staunchly conservative ridings, so while getting 10% of voters to sign a petition could be easy in some of the more urban districts, it'd be pretty difficult to do so in the more rural, and thereby more conservative ridings; especially when the petition is telling your conservative Premier and Conservative Prime Minister that you believe they are wrong. Perhaps that was what some members in the BC Legislature laid their hopes on when the Fight HST movement started their initiative, so imagine their surprise when the initiative not only beat, but exceeded the minimum 10% threshold.
Then comes the recall campaign for Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA, Ida Chong. She is the first of several Liberal MLAs who will be facing the fire squad as a result of the Liberal's botched attempts at quelling the anger people feel at the new hated sales tax. On November 25, 2010, it was announced that the petition was rejected over a word count. It seems as though the (unelected, Gordon Campbell appointee) Elections BC chief electoral officer Craig James, in his infinite wisdom has decreed that HST and MLA need to be counted as 8 words, respectively, rather than accepting the acronyms as individual words thereby bumping the word count beyond the allowed 200 words. He also rejected all 150 canvassers registrations forcing the Fight HST camp to start from scratch. Despite being furious that the rules were changed after the petition was submitted (here's proof), this proved only a small speed bump and the petition drive has been approved for Ida Chong's seat. Not only was it approved, the campaign now has more volunteers as people were angered by the stunt pulled by Elections BC.
Everywhere you turn, people are talking about what's going on in politics in BC these days. Sure, some are very cynical, but still - people are talking. I started off writing this post planning on pontificating over who the new NDP leader might be (Go, Adrian Dix!), but as I started chipping away at this whenever a free moment presented itself, I realized that that's not what's important right now. We need to keep on talking about what's happening right now. We need to show the rest of the country (heck, the world) that we're not just a bunch of bored voters who whine, piss and moan about how "all politicians are the same" and how we're always being ignored by them and start affecting change. It's easy to try and drown out a single voice, but you can't drown out a crowd that cries out in a collective voice. Get up, shout, stomp and demand that you be heard.
There are hundreds of people in BC who's job it is to listen to you. You hired them! But if you don't tell them what they need to listen to, you're doing them, yourself and your province a disservice.
Yes, the leaders of both major parties in BC are resigning. Yes, there's a lot of speculation as to who's going to get their jobs. Now is not the time to worry about party unity (there simply isn't any). Now is the time to unite, as a province, and tell the people in office what matters to you.
If the people of BC unite as one, then the parties might just unite with you.