Carole James ponders future as B.C. NDP chooses new leader

NDP Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James is sitting on the fence about her future in politics – but not for long.

Adrian Dix’s election to the top post of the provincial New Democratic Party on Sunday is the first time in seven years someone other than James has officially led the party.

She expects to decide in a month’s time whether or not to run for the Victoria-Beacon Hill riding in the next provincial election.

“I really need to take a look at whether I feel I can play a significant role,” she said. “There has to be something I can get my teeth into and that I’m passionate about.”

If she decides to leave politics, James said she may consider working with First Nations communities or with children and families in some capacity.

The past four and a half months since she announced her resignation as party leader have been an adjustment for James. The self-described workaholic has thrown herself into reconnecting with her constituents, and enjoying being a new grandmother.

In addition to the odd babysitting gig, James has held regular office hours at her Fort Street constituency office and now attends a plethora of community events solely as MLA.

“I’m learning that relaxation is a learned trait and I’m not very good at it,” she said with a laugh. “It’s not my greatest strength, let’s put it that way. Being a workaholic is my greatest strength.”

She oozes with impatience at wanting to get back to work at the B.C. legislature which next sits from April 27 to June 2, as well as help her party prepare for an election.

She is optimistic her party will now work as a collective unit after it suffered a caucus revolt last year.

“We need to show the public that we’ve gone past this …,” James said of the advice she gave party members following her tribute at the recent NDP leadership convention. “I’m confident that the team is going to get on with that work.”

Her enthusiasm is mirrored among other MLAs.

Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan said the party is turning an important new leaf.

“This (leadership race) reinvigorated the NDP. It got us talking about issues. We’re stronger from it,” Horgan said.

Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis, who supported Horgan’s leadership bid, is confident her party is leaving the past behind.

“This is going to be a new chapter for New Democrats,” she said.

“It’s exciting coming out of (Sunday’s) convention, that the party seems very united and very enthusiastic about getting on with doing the good work of trying to take on the B.C. Liberals.”

Saanich South MLA Lana Popham and Victoria-Swan Lake MLA Rob Fleming were unavailable for comment.

emccracken@vicnews.com