Monday, December 06, 2010

A win for caucus authority?

Carole James has been made to resign as leader of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia. (The Globe has a quick story here).

This is the short story. James has faced serious dissent in her caucus, such that 13 members (out of a caucus of 35), have publicly signalled their wish for her to go. However, two weeks ago she won the support of her party's provincial council, which is some group of its elected and appointed riding executives with some union members thrown in for good measure, I am sure. I suspect Royce Koop knows for certain. Anyways, armed with this endorsement of party members, James' leadership looked secured. However, she met with just one of the 13 dissenters since then. The pressure on her increased when Jenny Kwan, a member of her caucus, released a long statement asking her to resign.

This is not a perfect battle between the authority of some unelected party members and elected members of the legislature, if only because the dissenters among the latter don't represent a majority in their caucus. But, it's close enough for the purposes of noting that a caucus has just turfed its leader for for the second time in BC politics in less than a year. This is a victory for those who think that elected politicians should have more say over who leads them than party members. I can preach it round or preach it straight, but for now it's enough to note that this is good evidence that the supremacy of parliamentary leaders in Canadian politics is not absolute. This is a very good thing.

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