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Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan go their separate ways

"I've been talking to enough New Democrats over the last several weeks, and they're so annoyed at those in my party who want to talk about the leadership of Carole James. Ordinary New Democrats are fine, and happy, and thrilled actually in many ways with Carole James' leadership."

That's what former opposition leader Joy MacPhail told CKNW's Sean Leslie earlier in November. But her former caucus colleague Jenny Kwan -- who formed a two-member opposition with MacPhail following the New Democrats' devastating defeat in the 2001 election -- has a different view of James.

In a written statement released to the media yesterday, Kwan accused the party leader of stifling internal debate, as well as failing to provide a clear direction and capture the "support and interest of British Columbians."

Asked about her split with MacPhail, the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA told Public Eye, "I have a lot of respect and admiration for Joy and continue to do so. But the fact is Joy is not in caucus right now and she didn't experience what I've experienced over the last number of years. So I have a different perspective coming out with my own set of experiences."

But Kwan wouldn't elaborate on those experiences, stating, "You're not going to expect me to pull a Bill Bennett are you? I'm not going to do that. I said enough in my statement" -- a reference to the former energy minister's detailed airing of his complaints about Premier's Gordon Campbell's leadership style.

Ms. Kwan also wouldn't specifically say how long she's had concerns with Ms. James's leadership. But, asked whether she was prepared to sit as independent, the MLA stated, "What I want to do is fight within our party. I believe that the party is worth fighting for."

Sean Holman publishes the Public Eye blog tracking B.C. politics, where this first appeared.

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