What to do about a guy named Dix: NDP should keep him at helm until leadership contest in 2014
The internal battle over the timing of the NDP leadership contest roughly breaks down this way:
Those who support a senior member of the present NDP caucus taking over — notably undeclared frontrunner Mike Farnworth — support an early leadership date.
That’s because an established party figure like Farnworth has already gathered considerable support. He ran a strong second to Adrian Dix in the 2011 contest and still has that leadership campaign machine in place.
I suspect Farnworth already has half the NDP caucus, and his people were pleased when the NDP executive recommended a May 25, 2014, leadership date. When you already have a head start, you want that finish line as close as possible!
Then there’s the faction pushing for a later date. Many in this crowd support the idea of a fresh-faced outsider — notably NDP MP Nathan Cullen — taking over from Dix.
Cullen has called for a 2015 leadership date, saying he needs time to wind up his affairs in Ottawa and build a provincial campaign.
Cullen argues a later date would open the contest to a wider pool of potential candidates. That’s a good argument, though many have noted the next federal election is also scheduled for 2015, and maybe Cullen just wants to keep his personal options open as long as possible.
Ditto for Peter Julian, another federal MP with provincial ambitions lobbying for a later date.
What is the NDP to do? The party originally planned to have the 100-plus members of its governing council decide the matter in a vote last week, but the decision has now been put off until November.
As the internal struggle rages, there’s just one little problem: what to do about a guy named Dix.
Dix — who blew a 20-point lead over Christy Clark in the May election — announced in September he would step down as soon as a new leader was selected. But does the NDP really want Dix hanging around for another year-and-a-half or even longer?
Some would like to see Dix step aside now in favour of an interim leader if the party is going to wait that long.
But telling Dix to get lost now — after earlier accepting his decision to stay on unil a new leader was selected — would be like kicking a guy when he’s down.
Nobody complained when Dix made his announcement in September. In fact, he was praised for making such a graceful exit.
Trying to boot Dix out the door now would be too nasty, even for a party notorious for the shabby treatment of its flawed leaders.
And stalling the leadership until 2015 — just to satisfy the timeline of a couple of MPs who might not even run — is not on, either.
My guess: the NDP leadership will be decided in 2014 — next fall at the latest — with Dix staying in place until then.
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