The race to replace NDP Leader Adrian Dix will take shape later this month, as New Democrats settle upon the timing of the party’s leadership vote.
The NDP executive should decide on race dates within two weeks, said party president Moe Sihota.
A leadership vote in mid-2014, which Dix urged during his resignation speech on Wednesday, is achievable, Sihota said.
“I would think somewhere towards the end of the month we should be able to come to a conclusion,” Sihota told the Times Colonist.
At a minimum, leadership contestants need four months to campaign for the job, Sihota said.
Dix announced Wednesday that he would resign as party leader once a replacement is chosen, after presiding over what he called a devastating loss in the May provincial election.
In an interview Thursday, Dix told the Times Colonist that resignation was his “default position” after the election, but he wanted to take time to talk to NDP members and candidates.
“I think I gave, as well, people who might potentially run for leader some time to reflect,” he said.
NDP MLAs have praised Dix for staying to smoothly transition the party into new leadership, and not simply quitting and walking away.
“I am staying and fighting,” Dix said. “I’m staying as the MLA. I’m the leader of the party going into the [spring] session. I’m going to work my guts out for whoever wins the leadership. I’m going to continue to raise issues with passion and verve.”
Dix said his advice to the next leader is to not abandon or take for granted the 40 per cent of voters who support the NDP, in an attempt to lure the extra two per cent of voters that are needed to defeat the B.C. Liberals.
“We have to be ourselves. We have to be authentic to what we believe,” he said.
“British Columbia does not need a second Liberal party. It is a fact that, even though we tend to lose all the time, our vote is remarkably solid. People are committed to it. They see themselves reflected in it.”
Critics, such as NDP strategist Marcella Munro, said Dix’s departure will help the party renew itself, and nobody is talking about abandoning core voters.
“We need to find out how to talk to all British Columbians, first of all, about who we are as a party and what our values are,” Munro said.
Dix told B.C.’s municipal leaders Thursday that the NDP will remain a diligent opposition, and continue to pursue positive politics without personal attacks.
In his last speech as NDP leader to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver, Dix also blasted the government’s decision not to hold a fall sitting of the legislature, which could have been used to debate promised changes to local government election rules and regulations surrounding waste management.
“We have in B.C. a government which I believe was surprised to be re-elected and has been largely AWOL — absent without leave from the key issues facing our province,” Dix told delegates in a speech that received a standing ovation.
Meanwhile, the NDP may also have to search for a new president.
Sihota, whose term expires in November, said he’ll inform the party Saturday whether he’s running for re-election.