Macdonald won’t pursue NDP leadership

As NDP leader Adrian Dix announces he will step down, Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald says he won't seek the position

  • Sep. 20, 2013 7:00 a.m.

Carolyn Grant

Kimberley Daily Bulletin

Adrian Dix’s decision to resign as NDP leader was the right one, says Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

“It’s the right move,” Macdonald said. “It allows the party to reboot. He put the interests of the party and the caucus ahead of his own.”

Dix announced on Wednesday he would be stepping down, though he will retain his seat and will stay in place until a new leader has been chosen.

“I’m pleased he’ll stay on until we have a new leader,” Macdonald said. “We felt he was effective in the Legislature in the June/July session.”

But it is the right move, Macdonald repeats.

“We need to be a party that can gain the confidence of the broader public.”

Macdonald says that the decision was entirely Dix’s own — he wasn’t pushed by caucus.

“There was none of that dynamic. We always had the sense that he would do what was right for us. The timing was right. It was better that he didn’t step down right away. Now, four months after the election, people have a clear understanding of where we are, and are ready to step forward.”

Given the leadership ups and downs in recent NDP history, what is it going to take to find someone who will resonate not just with the NDP faithful, but with the public at large?

“The new leader will have to have core managerial competence and political skills with the ability to sell themselves and withstand an onslaught of political attacks. We do have some capable people who I expect to step forward.”

Macdonald, now in his third term, will not be one of them. He was emphatic that he will not run.

“It has to be someone with a strong provincial profile. There are certain realities you deal with coming out of rural B.C. Look at George Abbott in the provincial Liberal campaign.

“He was very strong, but he came out of the Shuswap and came third. You need a strong urban base. That is just a reality.”

During the previous leadership race which Dix won, Macdonald was a supporter of Mike Farnworth from Port Coquitlam — a name that is already being brought up by pundits as a potential Dix replacement.

“I supported Mike Farnworth,” Macdonald said. “I’m pretty sure he will run again and if he does, I will be supportive. But there are other capable people as well.”

Macdonald says he believes the party would like the leadership situation sorted out as quickly as possible but it was unrealistic to think it would be settled before Christmas.

“It’s possible before the Legislature sits again in February, but we’ve been through successful sessions with Adrian as leader so we can do it again. Though there would be a freshness and energy with a new leader.”

Bill Bennett, Liberal MLA for Kootenay East, offered his respect to the leader of the opposing provincial party.

“B.C. politics is a blood sport, a very tough business,” Bennett said. “While I do not share Mr. Dix’s views, I congratulate him for having the guts to step forward and try.”

Whoever the new leader of the NDP will be, Bennett’s views of the rival party are unlikely to change.

“I don’t believe the NDP will change with a new leader,” he added. “Their anti-business, special interest brand of politics will remain the same and a threat to our economy and our future.”