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Peter Julian mulls vying for leadership of B.C. NDP Add to ...

NDP MP Peter Julian, close to a decision on whether to seek the leadership of the B.C. New Democrats, said he has picked out the provincial riding he will run in if he decides to enter the race.

The Burnaby-New Westminster MP first elected in 2004 said he would run in Burnaby-Lougheed, now held by Liberal MLA Harry Bloy. Mr. Bloy won the riding by 812 votes over the NDP in the 2009 election. He was first elected in 2001.

In an interview Monday, Mr. Julian said New Democrats who had been inclined to seek the nomination in the riding have told him they would put aside their ambitions to clear the way for him should he decide to make the jump to provincial politics.

And Mr. Julian said that if he decides to seek the leadership, he will leave federal politics from the day of the announcement of his campaign.

He said he would be seeking a seat in the B.C. Legislature, win or lose the leadership, which will be decided at a gathering of B.C. New Democrats on April 17.

"It's either you make a decision to go provincial or you continue federally," Mr. Julian said. "It's either continue as an MP or enter provincial politics."

Mr. Julian said juggling his federal responsibilities with a bid for the provincial leadership would be untenable for him.

"I feel very strongly about this. It's a question of credibility and making sure you are serving constituents," he said. "In my mind, it's very clear. You're doing a disservice to your constituents if you choose to run for the provincial leadership and stay in a federal seat."

He won Burnaby-New Westminster by 300 votes in the 2004 federal election, 4,000 votes in the 2006 election and 7,000 votes in the 2008 election, but acknowledged his departure would put the NDP seat in play for the other federal parties.

"There's always a different dynamic when an incumbent MP steps down. I am taking that into consideration," he said.

Although a spokesman for federal NDP Leader Jack Layton declined comment on the situation on Monday, Mr. Julian said he has talked to his boss about the whole issue.

"I have had a number of conversations with him and will continue to speak with him," said Mr. Julian, who plans to make a decision and announcement within the next two weeks.

Should he run and win the leadership, Mr. Julian would be without a seat barring a provincial by-election. However, outgoing NDP Leader Carole James spent two years outside the legislature after winning the NDP leadership in 2003, but not seeking a seat until the 2005 election.

Adrian Dix, the NDP MLA for Vancouver Kingsway, said Monday he is also considering a leadership bid.

Mr. Dix was chief of staff to former NDP premier Glen Clark in the 1990s. In 1995, he backdated a memo relating to a conversation about a friend of the premier's, working in a group, to seek government approval for a new casino. The friend built a deck at the back of Mr. Clark's house.

Mr. Dix said the conversation took place in July, but he did not actually write a memo until September or October. The memo was the evidence to back up Mr. Clark's insistence that he had distanced himself from the casino application so Mr. Dix backdated the memo to be in synch with the July stand.

Mr. Dix was sanguine about the infamous affair now, suggesting he has, since then, worked hard to build a record in public life that includes being twice elected as an MLA.

"It's something I take responsibility for. I have done so before and I continue to do so," he said. "If I decide to [seek the leadership]it's up to people to judge, but I have shown that when I make mistakes, I take responsibility for them."

He said the issue has yet to be an impediment to him in elected life. In an e-mailed statement he sent as a follow-up to a conversation about the matter, he added: "The real question for everyone is who is the best person to hold the Liberals accountable, present a strong agenda and deliver on it in office. The election will be about hope and the future."

Mr. Dix said he is satisfied with rules on the leadership recently outlined by the party executive, including tight timelines for signing up new members. New members will have to have been members no later than mid-January, which means candidates will have two weeks to sign up members as they announce early next month.

"I think everybody should be able to live within these rules. I think the rules are fine."

He said he will make a decision and announcement soon.

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