Former blue-collar worker Peter Julian wants a green light from his bosses before taking a run at a new job in Victoria.
The Burnaby-New Westminster MP wants his constituents to tell him whether he should stay in Ottawa or make a bid for the B.C. NDP leadership.
“I’m encouraging my constituents to talk to me and let me know how they feel about it,” Julian told the Burnaby NOW. “They are the bosses.”
Julian said he’s “seriously considering” entering the race to replace out-going B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix.
But before he punches his ticket for a trip to Victoria, Julian wants to hear more from voters in Burnaby and New Westminster. And he’s already getting an earful from some of the riding’s 83,029 eligible voters.
“Some feel strongly that I need to stay in Ottawa and others that I should go to Victoria,” Julian said.
“I am going to continue to talk to people. It’s not an easy decision.”
Julian is the NDP’s national caucus chair and is considered one of the federal wing’s star performers in Ottawa. First elected in 2004, Julian has to choose between a job in Ottawa where his party has formed the Official Opposition for the first time, and one in B.C. where the NDP needs to be rebuilt.
But he’s already sounding like a B.C. Opposition leader.
“I am greatly concerned about where British Columbia is heading. We have some disturbing statistics; we have the highest levels of child poverty and student debt in Canada. We have deteriorating health care and that affects seniors especially,” said Julian.
“Issues around our quality life and the growth of our economy are not being met by the B.C. Liberals and that’s why I’m seriously considering it (the leadership).”
So what would it take for Julian to say yes?
“Getting to yes means having a lot of conversations about whether I can be more useful in B.C. or as a member of the Official Opposition in Ottawa,” he said.
“I have to talk to a lot more of my constituents before I make that decision.”
Julian is one of several B.C. New Democrat MPs who are weighing their options in the wake of Dix’s departure.
New Westminster-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly and fellow NDP federal caucus members Jinny Simms (Newton-North Delta) and Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) are also thinking about taking over the helm of the provincial wing of the party, devastated by May’s unexpected electoral defeat.
Donnelly said he wants to see what the talent pool looks like before he dives into the NDP leadership race.
“I’m waiting to see who else enters the race,” said Donnelly.
“It depends on who’s in and who’s out.”
Donnelly said he wants to see what the other contenders bring to the race in terms of their vision of B.C. and the provincial wing of the party before making his decision.
But he admits it would be hard to leave the federal scene right now.
“If Canadians want a change in government, we could be that change,” he said.
“We’re looking at potentially the first NDP federal government in Canadian history.”
Dix announced his resignation as leader on Sept. 18. He’ll stay on as leader until a successor is chosen. No date for the leadership convention has been set, but it’s expected to take place in the middle of next year.
Since being formed in 1961, the B.C. NDP has had 12 leaders. Just three of them have led their party to electoral victory: Dave Barrett, Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark.
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