Does the NDP have a death wish or are they just more principled than the rest of us?
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
You gotta hand it to the NDP! When it comes to the art of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, no other political party can touch them. What better proof of that could there be than the last BC election?
And now they’ve done it again.
Look no further than the riding of Columbia River – Revelstoke. If ever there should be a safe seat for BC’s socialists, it’s that one. The highly respected teacher and former mayor of Golden, Norm Macdonald, won it three times beginning in 2005 and with majorities of more than 50 percent in every victory, an outstanding record indeed.
Known to everyone simply as “Norm,” Macdonald taught school in Africa before becoming principal of a small elementary school near Golden. He served one term as mayor of Golden and held several cabinet critic portfolios for the NDP in the legislature and was a cinch to become a full-fledged cabinet minister in 2013 if once again the NDP hadn’t fallen on its sword and lost the election. As a result, it’s hard to imagine a safer seat for the NDP in the 2017 election considering the legacy Macdonald left for his successor. Not only this, there were two strong candidates vying to succeed Macdonald, one the current mayor of Invermere and the other a former city councillor.
Then all hell broke loose.
The BC NDP, you see, has something called an “Equity Seeking Policy” that few people are aware of outside the party. According to the policy, when a male NDP incumbent steps down, is defeated or retires as was the case with Macdonald they are to be replaced by a candidate that belongs to an identifiable equity-seeking group such as women, First Nations or a LGBDT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, disabled, or trans-gendered) group. (My apologies if I left any equity-seeking groups out such as redheads.)
The policy appears well-intentioned, but between the policy itself and its execution, there’s an awful lot of room for things to go sideways as, indeed, was the case when the NDP got around to picking Macdonald’s successor for the hitherto safe NDP riding of Columbia River-Revelstoke.
There were two candidates in the race; Spring Hawes, a popular two-term councillor, who met the NDP equity-seeking diktat on two grounds, being female and disabled. The other candidate was current, three-term Invermere Mayor Gerry Taft, who first became a city councillor at the tender age of 20 and has a female partner and a young son, as perfectly normal as things could be for an ambitious, young politician. A nomination meeting was held two weekends ago and Taft won handily, which should have been the end of the story except for one small detail understandably raised by Hawes and her supporters – how did Taft meet the NDP’s rigid equity mandate for new candidates?
Well, it appears that prior to the nomination vote Taft disclosed to the NDP’s Equity Search Committee that he was a bisexual – no, I’m not making this up – and asked that his equity-seeking status remain confidential. However, in the uproar that followed the nomination vote, Taft felt he owed NDP members – not to mention the general public – an explanation so he issued a statement announcing he was a member of a discriminated against group, namely bisexuals.
That’s when the poop really hit the fan.
The obvious question in the minds of many in the aftermath of Taft’s startling revelation is not hard to figure out. Is the Invermere mayor a for-real, genuine, hitting from both sides of the plate bisexual or is he a bisexual of convenience in order to gain candidate nomination status with the oh so socially conscious NDP?
That one dear reader I’ll leave to you. But this much I know. The hitherto “safe” NDP seat of Columbia River-Revelstoke is now “in play” and may not be safe at all. But that’s hardly a big deal for the BC NDP because they’ve been there many times before.
After all, the BC NDP has always been a party that puts principle ahead of being elected.
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has principles, but has no wish to legislate them.