Carole James blames Bill Tieleman and Bob Williams for being backroom party boys who wanted her gone. It is not surprising that Tieleman, tasting victory after a campaign of deprecation, provides no denial and simply says, "Now is the time for healing in the BC NDP."
He tells insiders who are sympathetic to James they are wrong to believe both sides of the divide share responsibility for healing. Having successfully trod on the party's constitution, Kwan and her backroom boys make no apologies and tell others they must accept the results, for the good of the party. Of course, they haven't yet revealed who is acceptable to them as new leader.
Tieleman says that James' difficulties compared to those faced by Australian Labour Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this year and Joe Clark when he sought a renewed mandate as leader at the 1983 national convention of the Progressive Conservative Party. Tieleman is smart enough to know he is wrong in those comparisons and a fatuous defence is not appropriate if he sincerely believes this is the time for healing.
James was elected NDP leader by a convention of delegates selected by the broad party membership. Rudd was elected leader by the caucus of Australian Labour because, under party rules, sitting members of Parliament select the leader. By obvious corollary, those who make the leader can unmake the leader. So, Kevin Rudd was finished when a majority of caucus decided to make a change. Rudd faced no minority group acting outside party rules, threatening resignation unless they got the change demanded.
The dump Joe Clark movement is analogous because it involved a revolt organized in backrooms by people with questionable motivation. Clark, like Carole James, had disloyal agents (of Brian Mulroney) working to remove him as party head. Clark faced a national convention in 1981 and received a voted endorsement of two-thirds. He admitted that was less than satisfactory and promised efforts to make peace with dissidents. In the party's 1983 convention, another vote of delegates supported Clark with the same two-thirds share. Having defended against attack from Mulroney's partisans and failing to improve his standing from the 1981 vote, Clark called for a leadership convention so he could seek an unquestioned mandate and end the mutiny. Instead, Mulroney emerged victorious, to the misfortune of Canadians soon to experience political corruption at new levels.
Suggesting that Carole James situation was similar to either of those is disingenuous. Hell, it is purposely false and those making the comparisons are hypocrites when, fresh from a no-compromise revolt, they tell others to compromise, for the good of the party. As I said yesterday, they may have won but, with that attitude, they'll soon be wondering what they won.
Again, I think that Carole James did the right and honorable thing in resigning. For whatever reasons, she failed to build a team worthy of forming government. In fact, resigning without delay is to her immense credit and complaints about her feeling anger are callous. She leaves with more dignity than the group who spit on the party's constitution.
If both sides of the NDP can find ways to solve their present dilemma quickly, they have a chance of being prepared for an election in the summer of 2011 or soon after. If they have not ended the divide, the new Liberal leader will call an election at the earliest moment, which would probably be late summer.
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