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Julian mulls taking shot at NDP leadership
While the media have started discussing the upcoming New Democrat leadership race, Burnaby-New Westminster NDP MP Peter Julian said those in the party are still grieving the loss of leader Jack Layton who died Aug. 22.
“The national media like to stoke up the issue but folks are very slowly turning to this issue. There’s a very profound sense of loss with Jack that’s out there ... within the NDP family [the leadership race is] certainly not top of mind.”
Nevertheless, Julian is fluently bilingual, attended university in Quebec and served as the provincial secretary for the NDP in that province in the 1990s, giving him some of the prerequisites some believe are necessary to lead a party where more than half of its caucus now comes from Quebec.
He confirmed Wednesday he is mulling over a run for the leadership.
“Some folks have urged me to run and I haven’t closed the door. I’ve simply said that I’m listening to people who are phoning me and I’m asking for advice from folks that I respect within the party.”
But he stressed, “It’s not a situation where people are kind of leaping into a leadership race. There’s that very strong sense of sadness and loss that’s out there and that’s really where people are at.”
The party’s federal council is not meeting until late next week to begin putting in place the leadership race process, he said.
Julian hasn’t heard any discussion within the party about the potential for a merger with the federal Liberals, and said that issue is also being fuelled by the media. For the record, though, he doesn’t support the idea due to a right wing contingent in the Liberal party.
“Over the last six years we’ve had vote after vote after vote, and dozens and dozens of times the Liberal party voted for Conservative initiatives. So I don’t see how that would work to have a merger when there’s a very strong part of the Liberal party that is very comfortable with Stephen Harper, at least with his policies.”
Instead, Julian believes the NDP should continue its successful approach of welcoming “progressive Liberals” and Green Party members into the fold.
In the meantime, the NDP’s priority is to continue standing up for working families, he said, citing as an example its lobbying efforts against the Harmonized Sales Tax in B.C.
He also expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support in light of Layton’s passing, noting his office will continue to have books of condolences available for another week for people to sign.
“We’ve gone through four of them now,” he said of the books, which will be presented to Layton’s widow, Olivia Chow, in the coming weeks.
“I really thank the support of the whole community. The condolences people have been expressing have been very heartfelt and I really appreciate people stepping forward.”