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NDP MP Fin Donnelly stands during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press Images)
NDP MP Fin Donnelly stands during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press Images)

MP Donnelly closer to entering B.C. NDP leadership race Add to ...

NDP MP Fin Donnelly says the decision by fellow New Democratic MP Nathan Cullen to rule out a bid for the leadership of the B.C. New Democrats has made it more likely he will enter the race himself.

The New Westminster-Coquitlam MP, first elected to the legislature in 2009, says Mr. Cullen’s exit as well as the decision by high-profile MLA John Horgan, the B.C. NDP House Leader, not to run is creating a space for a possible bid to succeed Adrian Dix.

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“I’m still considering it – more than before given that Horgan is out and Cullen is out. There’s definitely going to be space,” the deputy critic for fisheries and oceans as well as infrastructure said Sunday.

“It’s a question of whether I would get behind someone or be that person. If there were candidates I could get behind, it may not be the best role for me to get in the race. I believe John Horgan would have been an excellent candidate. Nathan Cullen would have been an excellent candidate as well.”

Mr. Donnelly, famous for having twice swam the Fraser River to promote sustainable living, has been considering a shift from federal to provincial politics as is Peter Julian, the NDP MP for Burnaby–New Westminster. After considering his options for several weeks, Mr. Cullen, the MP for Skeena–Bulkley Valley, said Friday he would prefer to focus on helping the NDP win the 2015 federal election.

Mr. Donnelly said he was talking to supporters about where he might be able to do the most good for the NDP – Ottawa or Victoria. Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has been sanguine about the prospect of losing MPs to a provincial leadership race, suggesting the interest in their abilities reflects well on his caucus. Several MLAs have openly said they are considering their leadership prospects and canvassing party members on whether they have enough support. However, no one has yet officially entered the race.

Mr. Donnelly says the B.C NDP’s biennial policy convention next weekend will be key to his looming decision because he expects the proceedings will clarify rules for a bid, and also allow him to talk to a lot of New Democrats about his prospects.

“It’s just a great opportunity to talk to more people in one place,” he said of the convention – the first major gathering of B.C. New Democrats since the party surprisingly lost to the Liberals in the May election. The NDP had been leading that race by as much as 20 points.

Mr. Dix has committed to vacating his post as leader once the party picks a successor.

There has been a debate within the party about whether to hold a convention early in 2014 – Mr. Dix’s suggestion – or hold off until later in the year or in 2015.

Mr. Cullen argued for going late, suggesting it would allow candidates outside caucus to get organized for a challenge and leave time for party renewal. Even though he isn’t running, he has said the party should consider the option.

Mr. Donnelly agreed.

“If they stay with the earlier date, that will limit my interest in a run,” he said. “I hope they take the time, regardless of whether I am in or out, to renew for themselves as a provincial party what they stand for.”

Mr. Julian was unavailable for comment on Sunday.

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