NDP seeks renewal as leader resigns

Recent Maple Ridge NDP candidate Mike Bocking will join Dix on the sidelines

It’s time for some frank self-assessment by the B.C. NDP, say the candidates who ran for the party in local ridings during the last provincial election.

“The issue of leadership is not the only issue the NDP must face,” said Mike Bocking, who ran in Maple Ridge-Mission.

“There needs to be a solid reappraisal of everything the NDP is about.”

His comments come after last week’s announcement by Adrian Dix that he will not continue as party leader.

And his words suggest that he feels the party has lost its way.

“A little bit,” Bocking agrees. “We haven’t provided enough of a difference between us and the B.C. Liberals. We didn’t give a distinct enough vision in the last election.”

And he said the NDP didn’t emphasize the mistakes and weaknesses of the governing Liberals. Dix’s 20-point lead in the polls led to some complacency, Bocking said.

“A lot of people thought the Liberals were going to tumble of their own weight.”

The NDP wasn’t tough enough, he said.

“It was a little like the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup playoffs,” he said, adding that was probably a trite comparison.

“I do not lay it all at the feet of Adrian Dix. I think very highly of Adrian Dix,” Bocking said.

The “character assassination” that the outgoing leader suffered during the election was “deplorable and bad for democracy.”

Bocking lost to Marc Dalton by only 68 votes in 2009, but the 2013 election defeat was his fifth defeat. As a federal NDP candidate, he lost to Conservative MP Randy Kamp in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Bocking said it is highly unlikely he will run again.

“I’m a dedicated New Democrat, and I’ll continue to work for the good of the party.”

He did not see any obvious choices for a new provincial party leader, and said often it is unexpected candidates who take the job.

Elizabeth Rosenau, who ran for the NDP in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, said Dix’s decision was obvious.

“It was clear to us that we couldn’t win with Adrian Dix in that position,” she said. “A lot of people will miss Adrian.”

She said it was difficult to watch the talented orator give his resignation.

“I’ve watched him give speeches for an hour with no notes, but the three-minute speech he gave, he read,” she observed. “He was choosing his words very carefully.”

She said the party needs an infusion of youth.

“We need a changing of the guard. This is an opportunity for change such as we haven’t had before.

“The leadership race will help define what we are.”

Kamp stays fisheries secretary

Member of Parliament Randy Kamp has once again been appointed by the Prime Minister as the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

“It’s a privilege to be asked by the Prime Minister to continue serving as the Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Oceans,” said Kamp, who represents Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge and Mission.

“It’s a challenge that I’ve enjoyed.”

Kamp and Minister Gail Shea have previously worked together when she held the portfolio between 2008 and 2011.

“We’re looking forward to a productive session of parliament when we’ll tackle some important issues,” Kamp added.

Currently prorogued, Parliament is set to resume mid-October with a Throne Speech, scheduled for Oct. 16.

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