Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bob Simpson out of the NDP Caucus

Carole James removed one of small number of New Democrat MLAs that is of a caliber to be in a future cabinet from the caucus.

He was removed by her from caucus for a piece he posted at the Welcome to William's Lake website.

Here is the content:

The annual fall convention of local government officials (UBCM) is usually a place where provincial and federal leaders make major announcements or present their agenda for the coming year. This year, none took full advantage of this opportunity.
Premier Campbell’s hour long speech focused on anecdotes about BC’s Olympic glory – for the first fifteen minutes he kept telling “just one more story” about how the Olympics affected British Columbians. He kept his Olympic theme going through his bizarre attempt to make light of his fumbling of the HST along the lines of ‘my skating partner, Colin Hansen, and I should have spent more time warming up before we tried our first technical jump.’
The only concrete announcements the Premier made, aside from a rehash of previously announced infrastructure projects that may or may not be funded, was three new totem poles and some money for Beetle Action Coalitions.
Neither of these spoke to the immediate needs of local governments which lack resources to address the increasing responsibilities that have been downloaded onto them by provincial and federal governments.
The Leader of the Opposition likewise had little concrete to offer the delegates other than a commitment to be more consultative than the current government and a promise to explore the possibility of revenue sharing with local governments. This is a timely concept which has the potential to address the resource needs of local governments, but the lack of specifics was a disappointment to delegates.
MP Stockwell Day’s speech was a bizarre throwback to the heady days before corporate greed and “toxic assets” collapsed the economy. He simply rehashed old arguments about why government and taxes are bad, even going so far as to ask the audience if they wanted “Happy Meal Regulators.”
The most courageous speech of the convention was given by the Leader of the BC Green Party. While she failed to address the issues facing local governments, she at least challenged every politician in the room with her reflection that unless we fundamentally change our thinking about our consumer driven economy we will doom our children to a bleak future.
The failure of provincial and federal politicians to address the real concerns of local governments and communities at UBCM this year is simply another example of the ongoing failure of our political system to address the complex issues of governance in the 21st century. They were simply politicking for the press, not serving the real and immediate needs of UBCM delegates and their constituents.
Bob Simpson
MLA Cariboo North

I read this and I am stunned that the NDP leader was unhappy about the tiniest of criticism for her leadership. He said nothing here other than the reality.  Carole James went to the UBCM and said more or less nothing and continued down the path towards premier by not being a leader in any meaningful way.

I suspect the bigger problem was that he had something positive to say about Jane Sterk, leader of the BC Greens.

Interesting to read is what Bob Simpson had to say on his MLA website on September 30th

When Will We Rise to the Challenge?
September 30th, 2010
We have a hard time being proactive. We loathe spending money on things that might not happen. Governments are particularly reluctant to plan for and spend money on something that only has a “probability” of occurring. Unless of course that something is a “terrorist” threat, then we’ll spend billions with absolutely no accountability mechanisms in place to make sure those dollars are being spent appropriately, let alone necessarily. But, if the “probability” is the scientifically modeled impacts of climate change on our planet, our infrastructure, our food production, our community stability, and our basic way of living, we allow the press to get away with perpetuating the argument about whether climate change is real and we allow our governments and political parties to get away with platitudes. We’re already experiencing some of the catastrophic events the climate change models predicted: widespread forest fires, catastrophic rainstorms causing major floods, long term drought, changing weather patterns impacting crop growth, increased spread of plant diseases and pests, and significant climate induced damage to property and infrastructure. Yet, we continue to increase our per capita greenhouse gas emissions. Despite decades of warnings, we still don’t have the widespread capacity to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Nor do we have funded programs in place to prepare for and adapt to changes in our climate and their devastating impacts. There is a climate change plan on paper in BC, the centerpiece of which is the carbon tax. But, as we all know, before HST there was the great carbon tax “revolt” which caused us to lose sight of the bigger issue: reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. I believe we have huge capacity to be creative and proactive and rise to the challenge that climate change presents to our way of thinking and living. We need to stop getting distracted by secondary arguments that are designed to create uncertainty and political debates that are more about the self-interest of political parties than they are the future of the planet. It would be great if we could find a way to apply the energy that’s been put into the two most recent tax revolts (especially the ongoing one over HST) towards a much more focused demand on all political parties to get their act together and work cooperatively to enable us to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and proactively prepare for the impacts of climate change.

I find the critism of the NDP within this more significant because of his criticism of the revolt against the carbon tax, something New Democrats normally call the gas tax.   I suspect that in private he has been much more critical of the party and has been some sort of thorn in the side of the leader.

So now what?  If the NDP MLAs have any political intelligence they will turf the leader now.   The single biggest problem the NDP has is that they have Carole James as a leader and I have yet to hear a single person say they think she will make a good premier and mean it.   2013 is not likely to be won by the Liberals, but if they have a new leader they are not down and out because the NDP against all reason continues with a leader that is such a handicap and takes anti-environment positions.

After reading what Bob Simpson has written and seeing climate change is his big issue, I could see him joining the Greens.   For the Greens to gain one of the ablest members of the NDP as a sitting MLA will make a significant difference to the political landscape of the province.

The local NDP riding association is also bringing up a motion calling for a leadership convention in 2011.  What is alluded to in the preamble to the motion indicates the NDP is in a bad state.

"The party is wilting under Carole James's leadership. Membership is at an historic low, PACs are being cancelled, the general membership is not donating to the party," the motion reads.
"It's time for renewal and a 2011 leadership convention is the best means to achieve this and position ourselves to win and form government in 2013."

I expect now there to be a character assassination campaign against Bob Simpson by the core of the NDP pundits in the province.   I will be interesting to see how he is treated versus how Blair Lekstrom has been treated by the Liberals.  Even more interesting will be if Lekstrom and Simpson can work together.


Anonymous said...

1. Bob Simpson has stated he's opposed James leadership since 2005.
2. Anyone with any familiarity knows this, knows that this is the last in a series of incidents and knows he wants to be leader.
3. Bob was in favour of the gas tax campaign.
4. Bob is so green he won't come out an oppose Prosperity mine - because it's not in his interest to do so.
5. Of course Liberals want to get rid of James - she's a moderate who wants to modernize the party. Liberals depend for victory upon a class war focused NDP leader who doesn't appeal to the centre. So it makes sense you're in Simpson's corner on this one.

David from Vancouver said...

I agree completely with Simpson, but I think your assertion that he'd join the Greens is naive at best. I don't see that he'd a) have much in common with him and b) that he'd have much of a chance at re-election as a Green in that riding. Sterk may love to have in the party, but I doubt he'd want to join it. I think it would make more sense if once James looses a leadership contest that he'd simply re-join the party.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading Vaughn Palmer's opinion piece on the Baker's Dozen of caucus members who quietly dissented on the need for a leadership race. I saw Jenny Kwan's name included in that race, much to my surprise. In my meeting with her (to complain, as a constituent, about the Axe the Gas Tax campaign, which I found a terrible NDP focus) she was defending the direction the NDP had gone in under Carole.

In VP's column has posits that there might be a breakaway party - part green and part NDP. What do you think? Possible? As an urban voter, it seems it might get strong support in some ridings, but as someone in tune with other parts of the Province, it seems like a non-starter.


Bernard said...

I can not see anyone creating a new party, it would be still born if someone did try it.

If I were to think of any sort of new party, I would expect to see one that is focused on rural BC