The BC NDP may have an internal problem on its hands.
An Indigenous advocate who served three terms as president of the Tahltan Central Government, Annita McPhee, has now submitted her paperwork to be the candidate for the NDP in the next provincial election in the northern B.C. riding of Stikine.
The BC NDP’s own rules state that when a self-identifying white male MLA over the age of 40 does not run again then the next candidate for the party must be from an equity-seeking group.
With Doug Donaldson not running again, the policy would dictate that someone from an equity-seeking group should be the candidate.
Former NDP MP and star candidate Nathan Cullen has announced his plans to seek the nomination. He does not qualify under the existing mandate.
“I didn’t even know there was going to be an opportunity until Doug Donaldson announced his retirement earlier this week. Then Nathan announced and I was surprised,” McPhee said.
“There hasn’t been an election called yet. I think there is an opportunity for them to implement their policy for me.”
All political parties are now planning for a potential fall election. Premier John Horgan says he has not yet decided if he will visit the lieutenant governor to ask for an early vote. The next fixed election date is in October 2021.
The BC NDP has released a statement saying in certain instances, despite extensive candidate searches, the party’s regulations permit allowances for other candidates to be considered for nomination.
As of Friday night, the party said it had still not received McPhee’s nomination paperwork. A candidate must raise money, be vetted, and be a member of the party in order to qualify as a candidate.
“While the riding association executive undertook a search for candidates under the equity mandate, our regulations allow for anyone to submit an application. Any application the party receives undergoes a standard review and vet as quickly as time will allow,” reads the statement.
The NDP’s equity mandate has been controversial. Some inside the party believe it provides a better opportunity for more diversity, while others believe it is not the right way to encourage a wide range of candidates that are best suited to win in their riding.
In 2017, the Vancouver Sun reported on Columbia River-Revelstoke candidate Gerry Taft. Taft was married to a woman and identified as bisexual and therefore qualified for the election.
In the same election, Skeena candidate Bruce Bidgood qualified for the policy because of deafness. He said working in a mill for decades led to his deafness.
“I really would like to focus on the policy. I really believe diversity matters in this. It has helped a lot of diverse people become MLAs,” McPhee said.
“Nathan Cullen was a great (MP). But it’s about doing what it is right and follow the equity mandate. I think I would be a great, strong candidate. I would like to see the NDP follow their policy.”