NDP leader garners local support

With a new leader at the helm, local New Democrats are confident about the party’s future.

Vancouver MLA Adrian Dix was named leader Sunday. He received 9,772 ballots after  three rounds of voting.

“I’m thrilled we have a leader with fire in his belly and a willingness to bring the NDP back to its roots,” said Steve Gunner, Shuswap NDP constituency president.

“He’s been constantly through the Interior. He’s in touch with British Columbians. He’s hands on and very approachable.”

Dix replaces Carole James, who was forced to resign late last year after a number of MLAs questioned her leadership abilities.

Gunner believes Dix can heal any internal rifts among members.

“People I’ve spoken to and people who didn’t like what was happening under Carole selected Adrian as leader,” he said.

There’s been speculation that Premier Christy Clark could call a provincial election this year — well before the 2013 date outlined in legislation. Gunner says the NDP is ready to go to the polls any time.

“We have good leadership ready to help us with our fundraising locally. Adrian has good ideas,” said Gunner.

George Abbott, Shuswap Liberal MLA, isn’t sure what impact Dix will have on B.C.’s political scene.

“He’s a very energetic fellow and a very committed fellow,” said Abbott.

“The Liberals should be concerned with his leadership. He will bring new leadership to that party.”

However, Abbott believes Dix could turn off some voters.

“He brings an ideological view of the world and he’s certainly the left-winger of the group,” said Abbott.

“Being more to the radical left will not work for electoral success but one never knows.”

Abbott would not speculate as to when an election  may be held.

“That’s a decision Premier Clark will make,” he said.

Vernon-Monashee New Democrats cast electronic ballots for the leader during the constituency association’s annual general meeting.

“Adrian Dix is a familiar face around the Okanagan, and the folks at the Halina Centre were quick to send congratulations to him, and to all the candidates, on a hard fought, yet civil campaign that had focused on  issues most relevant to New Democrats and to all British Columbians,” states a Vernon-Monashee NDP release.