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Learn from campaign, build positive message now: NDP's James

VANCOUVER - The B.C. New Democratic Party must start the work immediately to build a positive message for the 2013 provincial election and get that message to British Columbians, said leader Carole James in her first major address to the party since the May 12 vote.

“We have to share not only our vision, but the ideas and solutions that show our vision is achievable,” James told party members at the NDP Provincial Council in downtown Vancouver Saturday morning.

The inability to reach voters with a positive message was the biggest lesson for the party to learn from the recent campaign, she later told reporters.

“Really the issues around what was wrong with the government were the issues that overtook the campaign,” she said.

“We have to do a better job of making sure that we present [our] vision early - that people see that we have an alternative vision for this province.”

James credited the B.C. Liberals with doing a better job at selling their message, but said it’s already proven to have been built on broken promises.

“There is no question that their message was effective – they delivered it well. And it was fundamentally dishonest.”

She accused the Liberals of wavering on assurances to stick to the budgeted $495 million deficit and for failing to be up front about proposed cuts to public services, such as health care.

News this week of hundreds of erased government emails relating to B.C. Rail is another example of the government promising transparency and then failing to deliver, James said.

The NDP caucus will spend the next four years defending its core vision, including building a strong middle-class, standing up for the vulnerable and protecting public resources, she said.

“We have to be determined to oppose the B.C. Liberal agenda vigorously and relentlessly where it fails, and to propose new ideas - to put forward a bold progressive alternative that unites and inspires.”

And for the next couple of months before the legislature is recalled, MLAs will focus on discussions around the province.

“Outreach is our biggest priority. All of our critics … are going to start building that outreach. They’re going to start looking out for groups, organizations, academics, people across our communities and their critic areas, so we can start, as I said, building that bold vision now,” the NDP leader told reporters.

James earlier had restated her commitment to lead the party into the 2013 election and told supporters the whole party must begin now to put the tools in place to ensure success.

“In four years we have to be better organized, we have to be better resourced, we have to be smarter and we have to be more determined than ever.”

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

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