BC Election 2013  

NDP election loss not a leadership issue

The surprising electoral loss of British Columbia's New Democrats this week should not trigger a leadership race, the party's president said Thursday as Leader Adrian Dix remained behind closed doors.

Moe Sihota said there were many factors in the electoral upset that saw the heavily favoured New Democrats lose ground in the legislature to the incumbent Liberals, and a "revolving door" on the leader's office is not the solution.

"I think it's fair to say that neither us nor the Liberals really expected the result that transpired," Sihota said.

The former New Democrat cabinet minister said there have not been calls within the party for Dix to step down as leader. It was a team effort, and the entire team will be looking at the campaign, he said.

"We don't have an 801 Club in the party," he said, referring to media reports in the days prior to the election, when the Liberal were trailing in polls, that a small contingent of Liberals planned to call for Clark's resignation at 8:01 p.m. on election night — one minute after the party lost the election.

"I think that the challenges that we face are deeper and different, and we need to reflect on the totality of those.

"It's not simply a matter of saying let's replace the leader and away you go."

Two years ago Dix took the helm after Carole James was pushed out in a party revolt.

Despite an expensive 28-day election campaign, NDP coffers could accommodate a leadership race but that is not what is needed, Sihota said.

A variety of factors were in play in the vote Tuesday, Sihota said, including complacency among party supporters.

"People just thought we were going to win and didn't come out and vote," Sihota said. "And, to a lesser degree, I think the split with the Greens was a variable. But, again, more than anything else, I think both us and the Liberals underestimated the potency of the argument of fear."

The New Democrats were reduced to 33 seats, from the 36 they held before the campaign began. The Liberal gained five seats, to hold 50 or the 85 ridings in B.C.

There has been speculation that Dix's decision to oppose Kinder Morgan's proposed expansion of its existing Trans Mountain pipeline, in addition to opposing the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, alienated working-class voters.

More BC Election 2013 articles