A 'battle between incrementalism and "let's do it now"'
‘A no-win situation’
After a rough couple of weeks, it’s official: David Eby will become B.C.’s next premier and the leader of the provincial NDP. But neither he nor his party can rest easy, as the swift ouster of his only competitor raises big questions about where the party is headed — and who’s welcome to come along for the ride.
Before she was disqualified, climate advocate Anjali Appadurai drew thousands of new members to the BC NDP in a matter of weeks, posing a real threat to Eby, the caucus’ preferred leadership candidate. But on Wednesday night, Appadurai was barred from the race after the party’s chief electoral officer found “improper co-ordination” between her campaign and third parties, namely environmental groups Dogwood BC and 350.org. Appadurai, Dogwood and 350 deny any wrongdoing, and Appadurai argues a “pattern of bias” from the chief electoral officer dogged her campaign from the start.
Since then, party members, political scientists and commentators have weighed in with a range of views on the party’s decision. Some say disqualifying Appadurai was necessary to head off a hostile takeover that would have jeopardized the province’s progress on climate. Others argue the time for slow-but-steady action ended ages ago, and barring her campaign over missteps in process highlights the party’s resistance to healthy debate on climate policy. One insider described the leadership race as a “battle between incrementalism and ‘let’s do it now.’”
No matter how you slice it, the optics don’t look great and the party is bound to take a hit. My colleague Natasha Bulowski spoke with three political scientists in B.C. this week to understand the aftermath of the decision.
“The resounding message is that the NDP is in a no-win situation because young, energized, climate-conscious members have been alienated and soon-to-be-premier David Eby’s legacy will be tainted by the fact that he was handed the victory, as opposed to winning it,” she told me.
Instead, the biggest prize in this fiasco goes to the BC Liberals, who will prove to be stiff competition for the governing party in the 2024 provincial election, according to the experts Natasha interviewed.
Meanwhile, the federal NDP has stayed mum, “but the fact several MPs publicly supported the idea that Appadurai should be allowed to run indicates some level of unease with how the BC NDP leadership race unfolded,” Natasha says.
As for party newcomers — some of whom signed up to support a candidate who’s now out of the running — Appadurai and several others have decried “the suspicious way” they’ve been treated as the provincial NDP conducts spot checks to weed out any ineligible members. (BC NDP members aren’t allowed to join or support other political parties.)
Those newcomers are now faced with a tough choice, Natasha says: “Rip up their membership card … or remain a BC NDP member and try to effect change at a grassroots level.”
For at least one member, the way forward is within the party. At a press conference after her disqualification, Appadurai vowed to stick with the BC NDP, despite its decision.
“This conversation we've started here is so much bigger than me, so much bigger than the B.C. NDP,” she told reporters. “It's about what we compromise for power ... what we compromise for winning the next election.”
Eby seems to agree. In an email to the party’s membership after his opponent’s ouster, the premier-to-be wrote: “While the leadership race is over, the conversation within our party on issues raised by Anjali during this campaign must continue.”
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The global race to cash in on clean energy is afoot — and Alberta has a chance to take the lead.
That’s according to a recent report from the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) that reimagines the province’s energy economy for a low-carbon future.
On Monday, AFL president Gil McGowan will join CNO columnist Sandy Garossino and Vina Nadjibulla, adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, on Twitter Spaces to talk about the report and the AFL’s vision for the future.
Be sure to mark your calendar and listen in!
More on the BC NDP leadership race
- Anjali Appadurai’s disqualification stirs the political pot
- B.C. premier-to-be David Eby has 'mixed feelings' about leadership race kerfuffle
- Why B.C.'s NDP disqualified leadership contender Anjali Appadurai and how she responded
- Anjali Appadurai is running ‘audacious’ campaign to be B.C.’s next premier (from August)
- The desperate disqualification of Anjali Appadurai
- BC NDP’s leadership fiasco is a blight on the way we select leaders in Canada
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Over the past 20 years, editor-in-chief Karyn Pugliese has watched a generation of kids grow up at land actions. Today, those babies are adults and on the front lines. They're the new generation of Indigenous activists staring down police over the same unresolved land claims. And Canada’s National Observer and Canadaland will be telling their stories in a new podcast about the fight to reclaim stolen land.
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