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NDP caucus strong despite resignation says James

New Democratic Party leader Carole James insists the opposition caucus remains strong and united in the wake of MLA Norm Macdonald's resignation as caucus chair.

Macdonald told her of his decision at the end of the day Thursday, James said in a phone interview. “He felt he had a disagreement around the amount of discipline that was given to [Bob] Simpson,” she said.

Last week James ejected Cariboo North MLA Simpson from the caucus saying his comments on a website showed he was unprepared to work constructively as part of the NDP team.

“These aren't easy decisions to make,” she said. “It's also a decision the leader has to make.” She said she's open to Simpson returning to caucus if he shows he can work constructively. “The door's always open.”

Macdonald has not responded to The Tyee's requests for comment.

Public Eye is quoting an email Macdonald sent to supporters: “The role of caucus chair is to ensure that caucus decisions are made in a principled way, following a proper process. I have decided that I am no longer able to continue in my role of caucus chair given recent events.”

James said Macdonald will remain as forest critic and his resignation is an example of how NDP members can disagree in a constructive way.

She declined to say how widespread the dissent is within caucus. "That's a discussion for inside caucus and the team is working well together," she said.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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