Now that Adrian Dix has finally decided he's not going to lead the NDP into the next election, the party can get on with healing its internal divisions and trying to figure out just what kind of entity it really is.
For example, is the NDP a political party or a social movement?
A group of party members calling themselves "Forward B.C. NDP" has emerged and argues for the former. They want to modernize the party's so-called "boutique politics": polling, research, building databases and fundraising.
The group also wants to re-energize the party with new blood and a new team calling the shots from the executive on down.
But standing in their way, at least potentially, is what I call the Romantic Left. These are the types who want to go back to the party's socialist roots and who view any emphasis on such things as sophisticated polling and honing party policies to gain public support through a very dark and suspicious lens.
So that's one internal challenge the party faces.
The other big challenge is for the NDP to establish credibility when it comes to economic issues, which more often than not are the ballot box question for most voters.
But the party has pushed itself away from being the one that looks out for the interests of blue-collar workers and has instead aligned itself with the environmental wing that opposes so many of the projects that creates those blue-collar jobs.
The importance of this shift cannot be underestimated. It has allowed the B.C. Liberals under Premier Christy Clark a free ride into cloaking itself as the "jobs party" that encompasses so much fertile political territory.
The recent provincial election, in many ways, turned on this very issue. Dix's sudden and arbitrary announcement that the NDP opposed the Kinder Morgan pipeline project is a perfect example of the NDP abandoning the blue-collar worker in favour of the urban, white-collar worker who doesn't see (or care) about the connection between the natural resource sector and paycheques in this province.
In his desperate bid to ensure victory in a couple of ridings on the west side of Vancouver, he killed any hopes of winning a whole bunch of seats outside of the Lower Mainland. That one policy shift meant voters saw the NDP as an environmental party, not a jobs party.
But Kinder Morgan is just one project, and there are plenty more out there for the NDP to stumble on: the Site C dam, the Delta coal port expansion, new mining ventures, fracking and the potential expansion of the LNG industry.
Of course, the B.C. Liberals face their own challenges on this file, but they are nowhere nearly as divisive for the party.
The fact that many of these jobs have yet to materialize and may not actually be created for years is almost immaterial in political terms, at least in the short term.
But as long as the B.C. Liberals champion that part of the economy and the NDP does not, it will be hard for New Democrats to portray themselves as an economy-first party.
It will be interesting to see how much of these internal debates (political party versus social movement, and economic growth versus environmental values) surface during the NDP's upcoming leadership race.
I suspect there will be some heated discussions, and potential leadership candidates will try to navigate some tricky waters as they try to woo support.
But the leadership race may not resolve these problems.
The departure of Dix as leader was inevitable, but that on its own it doesn't solve the riddles facing the party.
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