THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito.
After weeks of speculation, David Eby announced his intention to seek the leadership of the BC NDP in Vancouver last night.
In a significant demonstration of early support for the leadership contender, 48 members of the government caucus, including the majority of current cabinet members, were in attendance or supporting virtually.
Eby began a round of media appearances. Some key takeaways from his early statements are:
- Eby focussed on the need for stability: “I think what British Columbians are looking for is that consistency and that stability, and continuing in the direction that we were headed, and delivering for them on the issues of the day: family doctors, the rising cost of fuel and groceries, and housing…British Columbians shouldn’t expect any radical departures if I’m successful.” (Source: The Globe and Mail)
- He also connected public confidence and stability to his significant caucus support: “What they (people) need is stability in government. And that’s one of the things I can bring to the table. I’ve got almost 50 colleagues supporting this leadership bid, and we all share the same goal, which is unity and delivering for British Columbians and not focusing on politics.” (Source: Daily Hive Vancouver)
- He ruled out an early election: “What I’m hearing from British Columbians is they want us to do the work, they’re not interested in politics or elections outside fixed election dates, and that’s my commitment. Certainly if I hear something different right now I’m prepared to look at it, but I don’t see anybody that is interested in an election right now.” (Source: CBC Radio)
- He commented on the need to bridge societal divides that have deepened through the pandemic: “It’s not a right-left issue. I look at the old-growth protesters blocking highways and anti-vaxxers smashing windows and blocking hospital entrances. And I also look at the rise in racism and anti-Asian racism, in particular. And I know that we have a lot of work to do to heal those divisions, to heal the social fabric in British Columbia.” (Source: Vancouver Sun)
- Eby also thanked Premier Horgan for his work and “selfless service for British Columbians” saying he “Built our province through some of the most challenging times we’ve seen” and called him a mentor. (Source: Global BC)
The BC Liberal Party and BC Green Party both immediately targeted Eby with messages that will likely be repeated as they shift their focus to the potential BC NDP Leader. The BC Greens focused on issues around climate action and affordability, while the BC Liberals framed Eby as “soft-on-crime” and a “failed housing Minister.”
The cut-off for additional entrants to the race is months still away (October 4, 2022). The level of support from caucus and cabinet for the Eby leadership bid suggests that there won’t be additional contestants from the MLA ranks, but there is time for candidates outside of caucus to emerge.
In the meantime, Premier Horgan continues to drive issues of top priority to government. His next steps will include the appointment of a new Attorney General.