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NDP MLAs presented James with concerns ahead of meeting

New Democratic Party MLAs who want a leadership convention approached leader Carole James with a letter two weeks ago.

“Both the letter and the meeting were private,” wrote former NDP MLA Corky Evans in an open letter. “It was assumed that they would always remain private, because that is the way that it has always been done.”

James said this week that Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan failed to bring her concerns to her before making them public this week.

A spokesperson for James did not respond to messages by posting time.

Another source says three NDP MLAs--Kwan, Norm Macdonald and Katrine Conroy--presented the letter, signed by 13 MLAs, to James before the provincial council meeting. James met with them for 12 minutes, the source said. *

Former leaders including Bob Skelly, Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark were presented with similar letters as they lost the confidence of parts of their caucuses, Evans wrote he believed. It's the leader's right to consider such a letter and then decide whether to accept or reject the advice, he said.

“For the first time in history (that I know of) Carole James chose to respond in a different, and utterly unpredictable manner,” he said. “She advised others in her caucus and staff what had happened and named the MLA’s had come, in confidence, to see her and then proceeded to turn the upcoming Provincial Council meeting into an opportunity to divide the signatories of the letter, and their supporters, from the rest of the Party.”

Supporters were given yellow scarves to wear at the meeting, leaving 13 who were not wearing them identified as “disloyal and bad” in front of their peers and the press, he said.

“It was awful,” wrote Evans. “It was so unprecedented and unexpected . . . that none of us knew how to react, or feel, or think.”

Evans added he wishes James had not “orchestrated the public division of her caucus,” and that he supports Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Jenny Kwan's criticisms of James. “As her friend and supporter, I will go where Jenny Kwan goes, come what may.”

* The Tyee added in the names of the MLAs, left out of the first published version of this story, after Public Eye reported them.

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

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