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Carole James quitting NDP leadership

Carole James has quit as leader of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia blaming her departure on 13 MLAs who are opposed to her leadership.

“I know there will be individuals who see this as a win for the bullies,” James told reporters gathered in her legislature office in Victoria. “In politics there are individuals who put self interest ahead of the common good.”

Members of her caucus were focused on infighting and were no longer doing the work they needed to do for the people of the province, James said, adding they have been using her as the excuse for not doing that work.

“People don't have to like each other, but they have to focus on the work that needs to be done,” she said. “I will not participate in slowing down that work.”

James said the NDP caucus will pick an interim leader in January who will be ratified by the party. She said she plans to stay as an MLA and is yet to decide whether she will run for re-election in 2013.

She said she accepts no responsibility for the split in the caucus and has done everything she can to resolve the issue.

Last week veteran MLA Jenny Kwan called for a leadership convention while releasing a blistering critique of James. A group of 13 MLAs, out of 34 NDP representatives in the legislature, are on record opposing James' leadership.

James said today she still enjoyed strong support from the council, the party executive and the labour movement. Two weeks ago the NDP's council voted 84 percent in favour of James continuing to lead the party.

“This is a very sad day for me and a sad for New Democrats across the province,” said Maurine Karagianis, the MLA for Esquimalt-Royal Roads. “I think it's very sad we would see her leave under these circumstances or any circumstances.”

Karagianis was the only MLA in the room while James spoke to reporters, but said it was because she was the only one close enough to get to the legislature on short notice.

Karagianis said she hoped the 13 opposed to James would take seriously the call to work together. “Many things we believe in have been sidelined while this infighting has been going on,” she said.

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

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