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NDP leader Tom Mulcair speaks with the media following party caucus meetings on Parliament Hill Wednesday November 6, 2013 in Ottawa.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair says the "rough" B.C election was a helpful tutorial for his party ahead of the federal election in 2015.

"It wasn't the result we were hoping for but the main thing we learned was, 'Never take anything for granted,'" Mr. Mulcair told reporters Saturday following a speech to a convention of the B.C NDP.

The gathering of more than 800 delegates was the first for the embattled provincial party since their unexpected defeat in the May provincial election.

B.C New Democrats went into the campaign with a double-digit lead in the polls over the B.C Liberals.

But they were defeated in the face on internal issues, flawed tactical decisions and a jobs-and-economy focused Liberal campaign.

Premier Christy Clark led her Liberals to a fourth majority mandate. The NDP has not governed B.C since 2001.

"I'm not going to kid anybody. It was a rough election," said Mr. Mulcair.

Mr. Mulcair, facing a bid to lead the NDP to national government in 2015, said one lesson from B.C has been ignoring polls in order to work constantly.

"Know that connecting with people is what you have to do. Be honest with them. Propose something optimistic, positive," said Mr. Mulcair.

Ironically, a panel struck by B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix found that the party failed to effectively poll in ridings the NDP had to win to form a government.

Mr. Mulcair has largely steered clear of B.C NDP affairs, but took a stand on a key point on Saturday.

He said he hoped the provincial party would pick a new leader ahead of 2015.

The B.C NDP is engaged in an intense debate over the timing of a leadership vote to replace Mr. Dix, who says he'll go once a successor is chosen.

Timing options have ranged between 2014 and 2015.

"I'd very much like to see (it) cleaned up by 2015 and I have every reason to believe it will be," said Mr. Mulcair.

Mr. Mulcair said the 2015 priority for all New Democrats has to be electing a federal NDP government.

"There's a finite number of resources whether they be human, informational or material or financial. It would be very good that we concentrate on doing one thing - not having to work on two fronts (but) working on one single objective which is to get rid of the Conservatives."