Prof. Gerald Baier, a Canadian politics expert at the University of B.C., said he considered it strange the number of incumbent New Democrats who decided not to run this fall, especially with the party ahead in the polls.
“Usually, that attracts a lot of people who want to stick around,” he said in an interview. “I was actually surprised by the number of the people who had been in opposition and now that they are in government and they are tired of it that quickly.”
Among the NDP cabinet ministers not running are Judy Darcy, Doug Donaldson, Scott Fraser, Michelle Mungall, Scott Simpson and Claire Trevena.
The portfolios they held included: forests, energy, mental health and addictions, poverty reduction, transportation and Indigenous relations.
Finance Minister Carole James announced last March she would not be running in the 2020 election for health reasons.
The departure of seven Liberal MLA’s, including veterans Rich Coleman, Linda Reid and Ralph Sultan, gives Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson the opportunity to put a new face on his party, said Prof. Kimberly Speers, a Canadian politics expert at University of Victoria.
“Certainly, those who have served a political party as an elected member for a long time, sometimes they can also be seen as the old guard,” she said. “If they’ve been affiliated with a previous leader or thinking within a party, sometimes a new leader or new members might think it’s time to get rid of the old guard.”
Baier said the NDP turnover gives party Leader John Horgan the chance at renewal for his group while offering opportunities for his members.
The current NDP vacancies allow Horgan, if the NDP is re-elected, to promote from his backbench or reward newly elected members of the legislature, said Baier, adding members Sheila Malcolmson and Bowinn Ma are possible new ministers.
The candidacy of three former federal New Democrat members of Parliament: Fin Donnelly, Murray Rankin and Nathan Cullen, also provides Horgan with the possibility of having three experienced politicians who could be potential cabinet ministers, Baier said.
But the possible arrival of new NDP faces may also force Horgan to change his political style of leaving ministers on their own to handle their duties as he has done with James and Health Minister Adrian Dix during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It might mean he may be a little more hands-on, because certainly the feeling was with James and Dix he could just leave them in those jobs,” Baier said. “He’s had utter confidence in them because he’s known them since they were puppies.”
With the Liberals, the departures of Donna Barnett, Linda Larson, John Yap, Steve Thomson and Sultan, Reid and Coleman, gives Wilkinson the chance to renew the party, but he may not have much time, said Baier.
“The question is, is Wilkinson making the party in his own image? I don’t know,” Baier said. “I think people still don’t have a good grip on who he is.”
Speers said the COVID-19 pandemic may have played a part in decisions made by the politicians not to run again.
“I think it’s given everybody a time to reflect and perhaps revamp their priorities in terms of what is really important,” she said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 4, 2020.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
After 30 years in politics, Carole James retires with a new pair of boxing gloves and no regrets – CBC.ca
Carole James is leaving the political ring with a few victories under her belt.
As leader of the B.C. NDP in the early 2000s, she helped it grow from only two seats in Victoria to more than 30 before John Horgan took on the role. Now, as outgoing finance minister, she is retiring in the wake of an orange wave after the party won a projected historic majority this fall.
James announced in March she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and planned to focus on her family and her health.
She told CBC she has spent her last week on the job tripping down memory lane — both reflecting on her own experiences and the success of the party.
“It’s been really extraordinary,” she said.
Watch Carole James talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly in politics:
The long-serving MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill is leaving the legislature with a unique parting gift from her colleagues — a pair of purple boxing gloves.
Boxing, says James, is a great exercise for people with Parkinson’s and she plans to step out of her comfort zone and give it a go.
“Much to the surprise of my kids who I’m not sure really believe that I’m going to follow through with it,” she said.
But not following through doesn’t really come off as a trait of James, who led a party when she didn’t even have her own seat in the house and later, as finance minister, had the unprecedented responsibility of controlling B.C.’s budget during an economically-crippling global pandemic.
“I don’t tend to take on the easy things. I tend to take on the challenging pieces,” said James, adding it was drilled into her early in life to take responsibility and get involved.
Raised by a single mom in the very community she served as MLA, James said she spent much of her childhood at protests and at her grandparents’ home where, as foster parents, there were always kids that needed caring for.
“The expectation in my family was that you have to contribute, that it’s not a choice,” she said.
Watch the retiring MLA reflect on the things that matter most to her:
But now, James is choosing to spend more time on her health and with her two children and grandchildren and her husband, Albert Gerow, the former elected chief of the Burns Lake First Nation.
“I couldn’t do this job if it wasn’t for family and friends and that’s why I remind MLAs when the come in, politics will come and go, but your family and friends — you’ve got to make sure you hang on to those relationships,” said James.
She said she plans on working somewhat during her retirement and while she didn’t specify what she would be doing, she did say it would involve what she loves — problem solving and “bringing folks together across party lines.”
And when she does think back on her time working for British Columbians, it will be with fondness for her colleagues and her constituents.
“I don’t regret a minute.”
How to talk to kids about the election and fraught politics – CNN
Children are experiencing politics more intensely
Give them a sense of control
Help them understand the rules
Teach them to try to see both sides
Use stories from history
Remember each family, and child, is different
Trump administration vetted stars' politics for planned ad blitz promoting U.S. president's virus response – CBC.ca
Public relations firms hired by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services vetted political views of hundreds of celebrities for a planned $250-million US ad blitz aimed at portraying U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus outbreak in a positive light, according to documents released Thursday by a House committee.
A political appointee at the department suggested creating a government-funded campaign to rival the Second World War icon Rosie the Riveter, according to the documents, and taglines such as “Helping the president will help the country.”
None of the celebrities agreed to participate — they may not have known they were being vetted — and the campaign has been put on hold.
Director Judd Apatow believes Trump “does not have the intellectual capacity to run as president,” according to notes made on a list of names of more than 200 celebrities compiled by one of the firms.
Singer Christina Aguilera “is an Obama-supporting Democrat and a gay-rights supporting liberal,” the document says, and actor Jack Black is “known to be a classic Hollywood liberal.”
A public service announcement by comedian George Lopez was “not moving forward due to previous concerns regarding his comments regarding the president,” according to the documents.
The names were among the spreadsheets, memos, notes and other documents from September and October released by the House oversight and reform committee.
The firms’ vetting came as political appointees planned to spend more than $250 million US on a confidence-building campaign surrounding the virus, which has killed more than 228,000 people in the United States and is a core issue in the presidential race between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
Pushback from federal employees
While government public health campaigns are routine, the ad blitz planned by HHS was mired from the start by involvement from department spokesperson Michael Caputo, a fierce loyalist and friend of Trump with little experience in the field. In September, a spokesperson for Caputo said he was taking a medical leave from HHS as he battled cancer.
WATCH | Trump claims he is now immune to COVID-19:
Trump, a Republican, has repeatedly minimized the dangers of the coronavirus, even as the nation is in its third wave of infections, with tens of thousands of cases reported each day.
According to one memo compiled by a subcontractor to Atlas Research, one of the firms hired by HHS, Caputo suggested a series of sound bites and taglines for the campaign, including “Helping the president will help the country.”
The notes say that Caputo wanted the campaign to be “remarkable” and to rival Rosie the Riveter, the character who symbolized women who worked in factories and shipyards during the Second World War against Germany.
“For us, the ‘enemy’ is the virus,” Caputo said, according to the memo.
The documents also show pushback from some of the federal employees leading the work, who removed Caputo from an email chain and thanked one of the contractors for dealing with a “challenging” environment.
The Democrat-led Oversight panel said Caputo was overstepping his bounds, interfering in work that is supposed to be done by contract officers at the department and politicizing what is supposed to be nonpartisan.
“Of course, it is completely inappropriate to frame a taxpayer-funded ad campaign around ‘helping’ President Trump in the weeks and days before the election,” said House oversight chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, and Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, both subcommittee chairmen, in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
“This theme also ignores the reality that more than 220,000 Americans have died from coronavirus — a fact that should not be whitewashed in a legitimate public health message.”
Azar put the entire project on hold earlier this month, telling the oversight subcommittee led by Clyburn that it was being investigated internally.
“I have ordered a strategic review of this public health education campaign that will be led by our top public health and communications experts to determine whether the campaign serves important public health purposes,” Azar told the subcommittee, which is investigating the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Because public health policy around the coronavirus pandemic has become so politically polarized, it’s unclear how well a confidence-building campaign from the government would play.
HHS officials acknowledge a major challenge to any campaign would involve finding trusted intermediaries to make the pitch to average Americans. On health-care matters, people usually trust doctors first, not necessarily celebrities. And Trump has alienated much of the medical establishment with his dismissive comments about basic public health measures, such as wearing masks.
The 34-page “PSA Celebrity Tracker” compiled by Atlas Research and released by the committee does not say whether the celebrities were aware they were even being considered or if they had agreed to participate. The report says that no celebrities are now affiliated with the project but a handful did initially agree to participate.
Singer Marc Antony, who has been critical of Trump, pulled out after seeking an amendment to his contract to “ensure that his content would not be used for advertisements to re-elect President Trump.”
Actor Dennis Quaid also initially agreed and then pulled out, according to a document from Atlas Research. In an Instagram video post last month titled “No good deed goes unpoliticized,” Quaid said he was frustrated that a taped interview he did with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, for the campaign was portrayed in the media as an endorsement of Trump.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Quaid said, noting that the interview was still available on his podcast.
Antony and Quaid were among just a few celebrities who were approved for the campaign, according to the documents. Others included TV health commentator Dr. Oz and singer Billy Ray Cyrus.
“Spokespeople for public service campaigns should be chosen on their ability to reach the target audience, not their political affiliation,” the letter from the Democrats reads. “Yet, documents produced by the contractors indicate that the Trump administration vetted spokespeople based on their political positions and whether they support President Trump.”
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