Sunday, April 17, 2011

So Begins Another Era in Opposition for the BC New Democrats

At least, that's what I suspect will come out of Adrian Dix's leadership of the BC NDP.

Dix was elected just a short while ago, winning 51.8% of all ballots, or 9,772 versus fellow MLA Mike Farnworth's 9,095. Another MLA, John Horgan, fought on to the second ballot in third place, and on the third ballot, his supporters all drove in a mad rush towards Dix, putting him over the top. Pot activist Dana Larsen was eliminated on the first ballot with just under 600 votes cast in his favour.

Of the three main candidates running, Dix was considered the most anti-business and left-wing, representing really what much of Carole James' leadership was, including what was really wrong with it. It's not that it is necessarily Dix is anti-business fully, it's just that in BC politics, you're either the pro-labour party or you're the pro-business party. And in most indications, pro-business always wins out, which is why it has been key for the BC NDP to shove themselves closer to the centre that is occupied by the BC Liberals, who despite being a centre-right organization, can sit comfortably in both worlds. The NDP cannot.

Dix's election will only reinforce that outlook, which is a problem. Despite the unpopularity of the old Campbell and now Clark Liberal governments, the NDP lost immediate traction once it became clear they were in as much disarray. Clark now has an advantage in all recent polling, and Dix is not going to be able to make significant gains unless he can move the NDP to the centre and gain pro-business votes. This isn't likely, however.

It will be an interesting year ahead, to be sure. With the upcoming referendum, and the probability of an election sooner than 2013 very likely, BC politics has become very interesting, even during the middle of this federal election campaign. Can Dix shore up his credentials as a pragmatic, compromise leader of BC's opposition? Or will Clark and the Liberals continue their stranglehold on the province? All answers due in some time. But don't hold out on any hope for the BC NDP.

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