Three months ago yesterday our BC NDP leader, Adrian Dix, announced that he would be stepping down following a leadership convention in 2014. This is the third time in three years that BC New Democrats have been called upon to choose a new leader â€“ both at the provincial or federal level.
Like a number of others in our movement, I was approached by activists, members of the community and members of our provincial caucus to consider running for the leadership of our party in British Columbia.
There is no doubt that what has happened toBritish Columbiatouches all of us deeply. Under the BC Liberals, our province has the undesirable distinction of having the highest rates of child poverty, of homelessness and of levels of debt (including student debt) in Canada. There is no doubt that the quality of life for working families in BC has considerably declined under the current government. Tragically, many of the record homeless in BC are people with disabilities. However, the erosion of quality of life hits many families, and all regions of the province.
In Ottawa, Stephen Harper has provoked similar disastrous policies that hurt working people across the country. It is these kinds of politics â€“ whether from Liberals or Conservatives - that lead me to join Jack Laytonâ€™s caucus in 2004.
These are just some of the issues that have been part of my considerations over the last 90 days. I have welcomed the conversations I have had with those in and outside the province that have stressed the importance of our work in Ottawa. Members of our federal caucus have been particularly convincing in telling me that my current work as National Caucus Chair is important to achieving an historic victory for working families in Ottawa in 2015 with a potential new NDP Government.
One clear message has emerged from the various conversations Iâ€™ve had over the past few weeks. People care deeply about the future of our movement, about the future of our province and about the future of our country.
Both BC and Canada are increasingly societies of greater divisions and disparity. People with Disabilities, Aboriginal People, New Canadians and Young People are increasingly excluded and marginalized. To build a society where no one is left behind, we need to continue to engage with social movements, the labour and environmental movements, and the community business sector to build the broad-based and grass-roots support we need to win government and bring change to Canada in 2015 and to BC in 2017.
Jack Laytonâ€™s vision inspired me and so many others to run for our national Parliament. Tom Mulcair is continuing that vision â€“ to build a progressive Canada where no one is left behind.
Many talented candidates, from provincial and federal caucus, and from the broader movement will be considering whether or not to run for the leadership of the BC NDP over the course of the holiday period. There are many talented potential leaders in our Party and I particularly hope to see many of the talented women in our movement step forward to run for leadership in the new year.
But, I won't be among them. I will continue working in Ottawa, in Burnaby-New Westminster and across Canada with our terrific National Caucus and experienced leader, Tom Mulcair. Together we will build the progressive alternative that most Canadians want to see.
I look forward to the discussions on the future of our party in BC. With hard work and love, hope and optimism, we will see a better province for everyone emerge in the coming years.