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At a towering 6-7, David Eby knows what it’s like to cast a shadow. But if his first year as the leader of the BC NDP and premier of his province is any indication, the political shadow he’s casting might be about to get much, much bigger. His recent string of bold policy choices, and the easygoing way in which he communicates them to the public, show he’s one of the most important politicians British Columbia has produced in a very long time.

Eby’s rise to power and prominence was hardly foretold. As a lawyer who worked with the Pivot Legal Society and later served as executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association suggested a more activist bent to his political leanings. Instead, he entered politics and ran in Vancouver-Point Grey, the well-heeled political home of B.C. Liberal premiers Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark. Eby, it seems, has always tried to conquer the highest mountains he could find.

In 2013, he managed to do that, knocking off Clark in an election her party actually won. But rather than play it safe and try to consolidate his new political perch, Eby began talking openly about the existence of a housing crisis and the measures needed to fight it — ones that would negatively impact many of his own home-owning constituents. “The fact that prices are so out of whack with what people can get paid here means the government needs to start taxing and regulating international money in our housing market,” he told me in a 2016 Q&A I did for Vancouver Magazine.

Eby was re-elected by a far bigger margin in the 2017 election, which saw his party form government for the first time since 2001. He went on to become B.C.’s longest-serving attorney general in more than three decades, went after the money-laundering problem that had clearly been infiltrating and inflating the real estate market in Vancouver, won a fight with the province’s powerful trial lawyers association over the introduction of no-fault auto insurance, and sued major opioid manufacturers over their role in the growing drug crisis.

As it turns out, he was just getting started.

He marked his first 100 days as premier with a flurry of announcements and decisions, from new BC Hydro and affordability credits to the elimination of rental restrictions in stratas and additional support for health-care workers and foreign-trained doctors. He also made it clear that business as usual on the Downtown Eastside was not going to be acceptable. That meant the province taking fuller ownership of the scale and scope of the problems it faced, and putting an end to things like temporary encampments.

Eby even suggested that removing people from the street against their will was a step he was willing to consider. “Any kind of movement in that direction will have to be undertaken very carefully,” as he told a Postmedia reporter. “But I fundamentally disagree with the idea that it is respectful of someone’s liberty and human rights to release them into the street to die of an overdose.”

This is the essence of Eby’s political appeal. He is at once thoughtful and adaptable, principled and pragmatic. He speaks in full sentences about complex issues at a time when most politicians retreat to the comfort of canned talking points. He doesn’t resort to rhetorical grandstanding to make his points, like so many of his provincial colleagues right now, but instead relies on a lethal combination of facts and dad jokes. His recent intervention around Ottawa’s carbon tax carveout and the costs associated with climate change for his province was more coherent and compelling than anything the federal government has said about its own policy in a long time.

Most importantly, he’s not afraid to take big swings when the moment requires them. That clearly applies to housing, which has been at the top of the political priority list for as long as Eby has been in politics.

David Eby is a lot of things: the premier of British Columbia, the MLA for Point Grey, and Canada's last competent defender of carbon pricing. Is he also the federal NDP's leader-in-waiting and the person who can finish the work Jack Layton started?

Over the last month, his government tabled five different bills that will impact every aspect of the housing market — from buying and building to renting and regulations. They effectively ban the short-term rental companies that have gobbled up inventory in the Lower Mainland, neuter previously powerful NIMBY groups and their capacity to slow-roll new development applications and eliminate single-family zoning and its suffocating impact on urban density. “We’ve never seen a government target any particular sector or problem with this many new laws, this quickly,” longtime B.C. political journalist Rob Shaw wrote. “Even if it fails to work, you can’t blame the premier for lack of ambition or intent.”

If the federal NDP is looking for someone who can take them to the promised land of political power, they ought to have their eyes fixed squarely on Eby. He might not want the job, given his loyalty to his adopted home province and the work that still needs to be done there. Then again, as someone who clearly enjoys a challenge, he might be drawn to the idea of finishing the work Jack Layton started and replacing the Liberals as the first choice for most Canadian progressive voters. If anyone can do it, it’s probably David Eby.

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Considering the massive support he and his government hold, his direct, honest and un waffling nature and (sadly) the fact that he is a white man (which takes away ammunition from the jerks who have lobbed continuous racist comments at Jagmeet and especially his turban, a very honest caring individual), the NDP would do well to try and convince Dave to run for the leadership.

Agreed, also about Jagmeet.
I'd say his peak attainment is the confidence and supply agreement though, which is a big deal, a lifesaver done behind the scenes that shows true leadership of the rarest kind, i.e. quiet and understated. Trudeau is also signatory but rather than give him credit for that the media of course refers to the agreement as "propping him up." (Language matters hugely and I really wish the media would step up and grasp that at this point.)
But it's disappointing how Jagmeet also seems to feel compelled to jump on the tiresome "slag Trudeau and the Liberals" bandwagon excessively and rather too readily in order to look like a "playa." It highlights our main political problem in Canada-- divided progressives splitting the vote.
At the recent premier's meeting Eby certainly stood out in all regards, including his heat pump shirt. The contrast between progressives and conservatives was perfectly reflected by Smith openly smirking at his shirt, pointing out how heat pumps don't work in the cold, heroic real world of Alberduh, thereby contributing her usual glib hit of basic misinformation. He could have just replied with "Norway."

Funny. Heat pumps work in the subarctic regions of Norway but not in Alberta. Must be something in the air.

Be nice if he didn't back liquid natural gas.

Yeah, but that can also be seen as a political concession arrived at by reading the room he's currently in in regards to "the economy."
He hasn't been in an election yet and B.C. has the usual problematic cohort to address.

That white elephant was led into the room by Christy Clark and tamed by John Horgan, Eby's former boss. It also has the support of key (but certainly not all) First Nations.

In other words, it's very difficult politically to stuff genies back into the bottle after nearly a decade of freedom.

However, one thing that will smash the LNG bottle probably before the Kitimat terminal is broken in is the emerging powerful economics of renewables in its export markets.

Economics is becoming a replacement for political will.

Fawcett: "If the federal NDP is looking for someone who can take them to the promised land of political power, they ought to have their eyes fixed squarely on Eby."

Not a difficult choice. Continue on as a highly effective provincial premier or become leader of the third federal party in Ottawa, where NDP influence depends on the Liberals' fortunes.

While Eby's politics may win favor in the Lower Mainland, that is not to say they will transfer well to the Prairie provinces, or southern Ontario and Quebec, where elections are won or lost. The NDP have but a single seat in Quebec.

If Eby is smart, he will stay where he is.



So does anyone recall the "crowning" affair that the B. C. NDP carried out, thanks to the dysfunctional party executive, which disabled a brilliant candidate from the non-race?!! Sure, Mr. Eby was only the other candidate, but he still had the opportunity to say "NO!!" to the party's unacceptable tactics!!

Party hacks will be party hacks. And they would be expected to react exactly the way they did when an unelected neophyte and the gang backing her tried a tactic akin to a home invasion to grab power and crown her instant premier, and therein manager of a 200 billion dollar economy and a very large provincial staff, no experience necessary.

I was really looking forward to voting for Anjali Appadurai in the next federal election; she came within 4% of winning my riding last time and offered what many thought was a great opportunity for a rising star. Then she ruined everything by allowing herself to be talked into a blitzkrieg invasion of a provincial political party by radicals who couldn't care less about public mandates and legitimate process, and who seemed to want to see the NDP destroyed from the inside for their environmental sins.

A smarter person would have sought a position as a legit candidate, gotten elected and worked toward her goals within a government (or opposition), learned the ropes, earned her dues and then moved toward leadership after a term or two. But she smashed down a back door and tried to bolt into the hall and grab the baton instead. Wow. That is not just indefensible, it is inexcusable and blows her reputation to bits, probably permanently.