Two NDP MPs from B.C. have ruled out bids for the leadership of the provincial party after months of reflection.
Peter Julian of Burnaby-New Westminster and Fin Donnelly of New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody both announced Thursday they won’t try to succeed Adrian Dix, who plans to leave as leader of the B.C. NDP after party members choose a successor at a convention in September, 2014.
Mr. Julian, national caucus chair as well as energy and natural resources critic, and Mr. Donnelly follow fellow MPs Nathan Cullen and Jinny Sims who talked about running, but decided against it.
All of the MPs, including Mr. Julian and Mr. Donnelly, who is deputy critic for fisheries as well as infrastructure, have said they concluded they could best contribute to the NDP cause by staying in federal politics to help the party win the national election in 2015.
Three months after Mr. Dix announced his exit plan because of the NDP’s defeat in the May provincial election, no candidate has officially entered the race to succeed him.
Several members of the legislature are considering leadership bids. One MP – Kennedy Stewart, the member for Burnaby-Douglas – says he will announce his decision in January.
On Thursday, Mr. Stewart said he has assembled a team of about 20 people to look into his prospects. He said the team is also assessing how Mr. Stewart might run and win a campaign based on spending rules and other restrictions that were in place for the 2011 race that Mr. Dix won. The party has yet to release updated rules. That isn’t expected until January.
“I am taking the time to get [the decision] right,” said the political science professor from Simon Fraser University, now on leave from his academic duties. Mr. Stewart said he has discussed his interest in provincial politics with federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. Mr. Mulcair has previously been sanguine about the prospect of losing caucus members to B.C., casting them as high-quality candidates.
Mr. Donnelly, a former Coquitlam city councillor first elected federally in 2009, said he expected would-be leaders will actually enter the race early in the new year.
“Because it is a September leadership contest, that’s plenty of time for folks to make an announcement,” he said. “I think you’ll see people deciding they’re in, in the new year.”
Mr. Julian said some prospects in British Columbia’s 12-member NDP federal caucus have been considering leadership campaigns without discussing their interest with the media. “I know that privately there have been one or two others thinking about it,” he said.
In a statement, Mr. Julian said he hoped several women would enter the race. “There are many talented potential leaders in our party,” he said.
Mr. Donnelly said he ruled out a bid after deciding he was best positioned to contribute to the NDP as an MP.
“The biggest part of the decision was deciding where was the best fit,” he said. “Having had a number of discussions, I came to the conclusion that the best fit is where I am.”
Mr. Julian, an MP since 2004 who considered running for the provincial leadership when the job was last open, reached a similar conclusion, according to a statement issued by his office.
“Members of our federal caucus have been particularly convincing in telling me that my current work as National Caucus Chair is important to achieving an historic victory for working families in Ottawa in 2015 with a potential new NDP government.”