MLA Coons surprised by leader’s resignation

  • Dec. 8, 2010 11:00 a.m.

North Coast MLA Gary Coons says he was completely surprised by party leader Carole James’s resignation Monday (Dec. 6), although he is one of the 13 MLAs who had been calling for a leadership convention in recent weeks. Mr. Coons said he had just stepped off the plane in Prince Rupert, coming from Victoria, when he heard the news of Ms James’s press conference. “It was unexpected and surprising,” he said. Ms James’s resignation put an end to party infighting. The NDP had been divided between supporters of Ms James, who has been leader for the past seven years, and those who said it was time to hold a leadership convention and allow members to choose between Ms James or anyone else who might come forward. The North Coast NDP constituency association had unanimously voted for a leadership convention, and Mr. Coons said lots of North Coast residents have told him they support the idea. “Many have expressed a leadership convention to ensure our leader has a strong mandate to lead us to victory in the next election over the clones of Gordon Campbell,” he said. A contest to choose a new leader is necessary, Mr. Coons said, to unify the NDP and re-energize the membership: “I see and hear NDP members and the BC public calling for change. I think that it’s essential we are positioned so we can show people that we’re not just the second-worst choice.” Mr. Coons said it was “not on my radar” to seek the leadership himself. But in an interesting development for north coast residents, some political observers were pointing to our federal MP, Nathan Cullen, as a possible fresh leader for the provincial NDP. There was no word from Mr. Cullen on whether he would be exploring the possibility. The provincial Liberals will be choosing their new leader Feb. 26, following Premier Gordon Campbell’s late October decision to step down.