--> Getting It Right: Is There An Opposition?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Is There An Opposition?

It is more a testament to Joy McPhail than anything else. By both volume of media coverage, and by key issues raised by the opposition in the last month, you would never know that the NDP are 15 times their size compared to under her leadership.

Joy McPhail, along with her sidekick Jenny Kwan, made enough noise over four years that you would not have known that they were outnumbered 77 to 2 in the Legislature unless you happened to turn on the legislative channel – and I’m sure we all try to avoid that.

So, here we are a month after the election and we're all still waiting to see the evidence of a strong, united opposition working hard for the best interests of British Columbians.

Now, it is fair enough that everyone got some time off after the campaign - the candidates all needed a bit of a break. Frankly, we all needed a bit of a break after 24/7 political coverage. But it has now been a month – where are the fireworks, the big issues, the passion that we saw during the campaign?

It isn’t like there is any shortage of compelling issues. An excellent one to start with would be the action by the dump truck operators in the Lower Mainland. Where was the opposition standing up for the interests of the building trades, or the drivers, or commuters. Or anyone?

How about the newly raised “let’s legalize pot” crusade. Why aren’t the Vancouver NDP MLAs railing against the irresponsibility of school board trustees saying kids shouldn’t be suspended for using drugs and, in fact, they shouldn’t be criminally charged either.

Or for that matter, why aren’t they joining the parade waving those ubiquitous leaf banners?

Whether they are for or against, it would be nice to see them at least taking a position.

Their silence, on all issues, is odd. And forces people to wonder what
they are up to.

It is going to be a long four years if Carole James didn't figure out election day is the first day of the rest of her life as the opposition leader.

Sworn in or not, their lack of profile and involvement in critical issues speaks volume about organization and leadership, two qualities that people will want to see from Carole James and her merry band if they ever expect to get handed back the keys to the treasury.

This isn’t the first time Carole James has disappeared from public view. The void between the time she was elected leader and the start of the election campaign, over 18 months, provided a pretty choppy start to the campaign for her strategists. The NDP even had to move forward the launch of their platform because people were starting to doubt they had the royal jelly to gain a respectful number of opposition bench spots.

Apparently they haven’t learnt their lesson from the spring. In politics, if you aren’t seen doing anything – you aren’t in the race.

And Carole James shouldn’t kid herself. If her party doesn’t see her running hard for the brass ring of government, they’ll find someone willing to put in the time to make it happen.


At 8:33 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funny thing is that these extended absences don't seem to hurt Carole James that much. In fact, it seems to help her. Carole James is, for the time being, whatever you want her to be.

By avoiding being in the spotlight too much and presenting a nice, non-threatening public persona, she has made herself into a female Mike Harcourt. This is counter-intuitive for an opposition, but her challenges will actually get tougher once the legisature is back in session. At that time she will actually have to take a stand on some issues and start controlling that unruly mob of a caucus. That will just be a warm-up for her battle at the NDP convention, where the hardliners will fight like caged cats to avoid a permanent move to the middle.


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