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Layton strategist Brian Topp to manage NDP's B.C. campaign

Brian Topp, NDP's director of research, is shown in his cubicle in NDP war room in Ottawa May 19, 2003.

Bill Grimshaw/The Globe and Mail/Bill Grimshaw/The Globe and Mail

A key player in the federal New Democratic Party's "Orange Crush" breakthrough on May 2 will run the B.C. NDP's attempt to replicate that political success provincially, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Brian Topp, who co-chaired the NDP's platform committee and co-ordinated preparation for the leaders' debate in the federal campaign, will manage the provincial party's campaign and co-chair its election planning committee, Leader Adrian Dix confirmed on Tuesday.

"I think we saw in the last federal election and the previous federal elections that Brian can deliver an excellent campaign. We've got great skills and great people in British Columbia, and I think Brian being involved will add to that," the party leader said, adding that he has known Mr. Topp for more than 20 years.

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Mr. Dix said he was talking to Mr. Topp about becoming more involved with the B.C. New Democrats even before this year's federal vote as a result of the role he played during the 2006 and 2008 federal election campaigns.

Those elections, during which Mr. Topp was the party's national campaign director, saw the NDP's seat count go to 37 from 18. But the real breakthrough came on May 2, when the caucus ballooned to 103 and became the official Opposition.

"I think he's got great skills in developing a message and developing an excellent tour for the leader and secondary tours for our very strong team - people like Mike Farnworth and Carole James and John Horgan," Mr. Dix said.

Mr. Topp has already worked with the B.C. New Democrats, having had a short-term contract to advise the caucus executive earlier this year.

"Brian's come and spoke to our caucus a couple times about different issues," Mr. Dix confirmed. "And I think it's fair to say that Brian has the confidence - not just of me in our long-standing and positive relationship - but of the caucus and the NDP."

Mr. Topp's appointment as campaign manager is big change for the B.C. New Democrats, who have given that job in the past two elections to Gerry Scott, who managed Mr. Dix's leadership campaign.

But Mr. Dix stressed the party stalwart will still be involved in the upcoming election, describing him as "an important friend and adviser to me."

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Mr. Topp was also recently elected the president of the federal NDP.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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