Opinion Column

BC NDP not doomed, just depressed

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

BC NDP's Adrian Dix takes the podium at NDP headquarters to admit defeat in the 2013 provincial election May 14. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

BC NDP's Adrian Dix takes the podium at NDP headquarters to admit defeat in the 2013 provincial election May 14. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

Our worst foes are not belligerent circumstances, but wavering spirits. — Helen Keller, blind and deaf author-activist

These can be seen as dark days for the BC NDP as its convention approaches this weekend.

The party, however, is not doomed, just depressed.

There are good reasons for the latter.

Losing the May provincial election that every pollster and pundit predicted they would win.

New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix forced to announce his resignation after a disastrous campaign, despite leading the polls for months before the election.

A BC NDP election review last week that faulted poor campaign strategy, a positive-only approach, ineffective advertising, lack of swing riding polling and failed policy platform rollout — to list just some conclusions.

And two of the NDP’s most powerful icons silenced by declining health: B.C.’s first NDP premier — Dave Barrett — and former IWA-Canada union president Jack Munro.

This all comes as emboldened BC Liberals threaten to pave over perhaps Barrett’s most lasting achievement — the Agricultural Land Reserve that protects diminishing farmland.

If the BC NDP is depressed, it’s no wonder — but it’s far from doomed.

Simply winning just nine seats from the BC Liberals would give the BC NDP 43, up from the 34 it won in May and enough to form a majority government in 2017.

And the BC NDP should view other opposition parties before whining about its own fate.

Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith was also widely expected to become premier by most polls and observers, but lost in 2012 to Conservative Premier Alison Redford by a stunning 44-seat margin.

Saskatchewan’s NDP took only nine seats in 2011’s election, 40 behind Premier Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party.

Nova Scotia’s first NDP government dropped to a miserable third place in October’s election, winning just seven seats out of 51.

These opposition parties have a far more difficult path to power than the BC NDP — and you can bet that their leaders would give their eye teeth to change places.

Are there still challenges? Yes, big ones, from modernizing the party to finding the careful balance between jobs and the environment.

But BC NDP members at this week’s convention should stop overstating the “belligerent circumstances” the party faces and realize their worst foes — “wavering spirits” — can easily be overcome.

After all, Premier Christy Clark did it.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read more Tieleman at billtieleman.blogspot.com Email: mailto:weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman




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