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B.C. NDP members consider running for party leadership

Former labour leader George Heyman, touted as a possible contender for the leadership of the B.C. New Democrats, says he is mindful of the attention, but considering such factors as his family before deciding how to proceed.

Mr. Heyman made the comments Tuesday, following his return to Canada after four weeks out of the country. During that time, Carole James stepped down as NDP leader due to a caucus revolt.

"I am catching up on everything that has taken place," Mr. Heyman, currently executive director of the Sierra Club BC, said in an interview.

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Pressed on the leadership issue, Mr. Heyman said, "I am appreciative of the interest and support that has been shown, but there are many things to consider - foremost among them my family."

The former president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees Union earlier this decade declined to elaborate. As union leader, Mr. Heyman played a pivotal role in reaching union contracts that led to labour peace leading up to and during the 2010 Olympics.

Mr. Heyman has been seen as a savvy negotiator - skills that could help heal rifts in the caucus of the NDP where 13 MLAs rebelled against Ms. James, dooming her control of the party after seven years as leader.

Harry Lali, a former transportation minister, said Monday he is "strongly leaning toward seeking the leadership" of the NDP, vacated earlier this month by Carole James due to caucus unrest.

"I have been seriously thinking about it. I have been talking to people and I haven't made a final decision, but I am strongly leaning towards running," the Fraser-Nicola MLA said in an interview, adding he will make a final decision soon..

Mr. Lali said he is hoping New Democrats will come up with an inclusive series of rules for the race.

"Spending rules need to be reasonable so they don't hamper the slate of candidates,"said Mr. Lali, first elected to the legislature in 1991.

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Mr. Lali said although it is a challenge to raise money in rural British Columbia, he has done well as a fundraiser so expects he could find the required funds for a leadership bid though such an effort is a challenge in rural B.C. "In a leadership race, you reach across the province to be able to raise money."

Mr. Lali was re-elected in 1996. He did not seek re-election in 2001, but returned to provincial politics until 2005.

Mr. Lali was among the so-called Bakers' Dozen of NDP MLAs opposed to the leadership of former leader Carole James, and said he was up to the challenge of trying to rebuild unity in the party.

"The alliance you have as New Democrats? That's not going to go away because our foes are the Liberals and not us."

Meanwhile, Corky Evans, a veteran NDP cabinet minister in portfolios including transportation, fisheries and agriculture, says he isn't running although he was flattered to rank as a contender in a poll.

In an e-mail, he said he noted he sought the leadership twice, ran for office for most of 25 years and did 14 years in the legislature.

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"I am pretty sure, that is enough for anybody," he said.

Mr. Evans' portfolios included transportation, fisheries and agriculture. He served in the legislature from 1991 until 2001 when he was defeated in his Nelson-Creston riding.

He returned to the legislature in 2005, but did not seek re-election in 2009.

He said he was hoping former caucus chairman Norm McDonald, elected twice as MLA for Columbia-River Revelstoke. would decide to run.

"I am looking for a candidate who understands what has happened to rural communities in the last decade, and who has a loyalty to land-based politics like forestry and community and agriculture.

"I get it that the people in the (Greater Vancouver Regional District) can always outvote everybody else, but that is no reason to limit the candidates to those who live in the city."

Through a caucus spokesperson, Mr. McDonald said Monday he would not be commenting on the leadership issue at this time.

Opposition House Leader Mike Farnworth, and energy critic John Horgan are among the MLAs who have said they are considering leadership bids.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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