The Narwhal published an Arno Kopecky feature on Anjali Appadurai. How a 32-year-old climate activist is shaking up the race to be B.C.’s next premier provides interesting background for a woman of achievement who will likely remain in the public eye beyond 2022.
No matter how admirable Anjali Appadurai and her causes are, Kopecky concludes the leadership effort “probably won’t end in victory.”
However, The Narwhal article suggests a chance of success:
That’s because party leadership races aren’t particularly democratic. Anjali Appadurai doesn’t need to charm a plurality of British Columbians to become premier. She doesn’t even need to persuade a majority of the NDP’s current membership. All she needs to do is sign up a few thousand new members, who can then vote for her.
The party currently has 11,000 members, having lost 9,000 since Horgan took office. If Appadurai brought those disaffected members back, that would almost certainly be enough.
The statement that almost half of BC NDP members left the party comes from Dogwood, an organization that is an active participant in the Appadurai campaign. I can locate no independent source for this information and after reviewing the party’s annual reports, it seems unlikely.
In calendar year 2016, individual contributions to the provincial NDP totalled $3.8 million. In 2021, contributions from 14,195 supporters amounted to $3.6 million. With contributions down only 6%, the notion that membership declined by 45% is hard to accept.
The Narwhal reports that political scientist Hamish Telford said David Eby “is fighting for power. She’s fighting for the soul of the party.” Telford is also quoted:
If she ends up with a vote in the single digits, percentage-wise, then not much will change. But if she starts to take down 25 to 30 per cent of the vote, then I think the NDP might start to think, ‘hmm, a significant portion of our base is not happy with the direction that we’ve been going, and maybe we have to do more for them.’
That is probably a naive assumption. Instead of allowing climate activists to be influential, NDP leaders are more likely to drive them out of the party. Holding power is the single most important issue for politicians.
The would-be leader says putting people and the planet first is meant to be “at the heart of the NDP as a worker-first party.“
Sorry, that was then; this is now. Horgan’s NDP is not Barrett’s NDP. Nor is it Mike Harcourt’s.
There remains a chance Appadurai will not be on a leadership ballot but that important issue was not even discussed in The Narwhal article. People joining the party are required to make a declaration of support for policies and principles of John Horgan’s NDP. The climate activist and her followers seem to oppose current policies and principles,
Two years ago, Mario Canseco’s Research Co. reported 62% of Canadians believe global warming is a “major crisis.” Disasters such as the ones seen in the summer of 2022 likely push that percentage higher. BC NDP leaders know the environment and climate change are major issues but they also believe minor policy changes and promises of future actions are sufficient. Their primary response is that taken by spin doctors writing speeches, talking points and press releases. Nothing much changes on the ground.
Reality is that protecting the world we live in would result in a substantial economic price that would be payable immediately. BC Government leaders deduce that price would also include loss of political power since modifying resource extraction would lead to job losses and an economic downturn.
Another issue not discussed in The Narwhal piece is this: can an unelected party leader survive as Premier if almost every sitting MLA prefers another person?
By convention, the leader of the party holding a majority of seats in the Legislature, elected or not, is invited by the Lieutenant-Governor to form a Government. But if that person cannot demonstrate the confidence of house members, the L-G would almost certainly offer the Premiership to an MLA supported by the largest number of MLAs.
Who would that likely be? MLA David Eby, of course.
Since I wrote Quixotic quest bound to fail a few weeks ago, I have heard from individuals who believe that climate is our principal issue and Appadurai offers the best chance to quickly end the BC government’s love affair with fossil fuels and ancient forest destruction. These people aim for Appadurai’s success but hope at least to force an honest policy discussion within the NDP.
I believe there is another way to force the NDP to alter policies. That is to strengthen Green Party representation in the Legislature. The 2020 BC Liberal campaign under Andrew Wilkinson was inept, but that is unlikely to be repeated in 2024. A minority government dependent on six or eight Green MLAs would have to modify current laissez-faire extractivist policies.
However, getting that number of Greens elected requires financial and human resources to organize key ridings now. Instead, environmentalists who spend time trying to remake the NDP are lost to BC Greens for the time being. Newly involved activists may come to distrust partisan politics to a degree that will keep them from further involvement with any party.
NDP strategists have contemplated how the Green Party can be suppressed during a time of climate crisis. Some believe the current distraction may help achieve just that.
Categories: NDP BC