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Corky Evans on BC NDP's problems: the 'movement' has become an 'institution'

Adding his analysis to the slew of political vets now working through the BC NDP's May election loss is three-term MLA Corky Evans.

In an email obtained by journalist Mark Leiren-Young, who posted it on his blog, the former politician offered some provocative thoughts about where and how his party went wrong -- and states his view that leader Adrian Dix must step down.

"Of course Adrian must go. His image has been damaged by attack ads the same way Mr. Dion and Mr. Ignatieff were damaged by similar smear campaigns in the recent past. They were both fine people and they both had to leave so that their Party could move on, so must Adrian."

But the NDP's troubles run far deeper than Dix's leadership, Evans writes.

"The only way I can think of to describe our problem is to say the Movement that we were has become the Institution that we are.

"The same thing happens to every religion as it turns into a church, every political movement that outlives its vision, every business that grows big enough to forget what it started out to accomplish.

"The Pope dies, the CEO gets paid to leave, the Leader resigns, and the institutions that they led, precisely because they are institutions, survive and carry on as before.

"It seems to me that a movement becomes an institution pretty soon after it spawns a number of people whose well being, financially or psychologically, is dependent on the survival of the organization, rather than its success."

Never one to stay inside the message box as a politician, Evans argues it's time for the NDP to break from being a "modern political machine" and be "a bit embarrassing at times."

"I remember the election when every Liberal candidate in BC, including Gordon Campbell, had a sheet of stupid things Corky Evans has said to quote from. Of course, every quote on the page was taken out of context and was, to me, defensible. But in a time where the sound bite has replaced discourse as the way that people receive ideas, it can be argued that it is better to be boring than to risk being made to look stupid.

"I do not know how to fix this. I could not write a tract entitled 'What is to be done,' because I do not know. The thing I do know, though, is that discussion is medicine for screwed up situations. Self-criticism can heal. The message box, on the other hand, is not discourse. It is poison, like drinking the Kool-aid at Jonestown.

"I'd like to see us cut everyone a little slack and see if we couldn't be a bit of a movement again, a bit embarrassing at times but also interesting and current and vibrant and less controlled, less careful, less run by anybody in particular."

Evans' full email is posted on Leiren-Young's blog.

Robyn Smith reports for The Tyee.

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