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Carole James courts the carpetbaggers

So Carole James thinks meeting with business is going to help her look like a leader. Good luck with that. No one will take this sad effort seriously – not her supporters, who want her to represent them which means against the reactionary interests of business. And certainly not business who will only be impressed with an NDP leader when said leader commits hari kari for ever having had the temerity to challenge the Liberal party.

This isn’t just a waste of time – it is embarrassing  and counterproductive. 

How does humiliating yourself – essentially apologizing to the most reactionary business class in Canada – make you look like a leader?

Ms James says: “The future we all want for our province is not possible without a strong and dynamic private sector. Risk must be rewarded. Innovation encouraged.”

That might be true in some other era but business these days isn’t interested in risk or innovation. It is interested in sure things – like the private power projects that are slowly killing BC Hydro the crown jewel of BC.  Why would you vote for a party that expects you to take risks when you already have a party that just hands you the province on a platter?

James said in her speech that the wealth created by business “helps pay for the services that make for a just and fair society.”  Well, yes, if they actually paid their fair share of taxes that might also be true – but they don’t. The irresponsible corporate tax cuts delivered by the Campbell government in the first week after its first electoral victory means we don’t have the money needed to pay for the services we need. The obscenity of overcrowded emergency rooms, school boards millions of dollars short of what they need, cuts to everything that makes BC a good place to live lies at the door of the BC corporate elite.

This is the business class James is talking to and what do they think about the multi-billion dollar shortfall they are responsible for? Why, they want even more tax cuts.

Did James talk about that while she genuflected before this crowd of carpetbaggers?  Did she tell them if they want to live in a civilized society, they have to pay for it? Did she remind them that educated, healthy workers and a strong infrastructure are good for business.

No, she didn’t.  This is an NDP leader with no stomach for the truth or social justice – she will never call for tax increases even though everything the NDP is supposed to stand for requires tax revenue.

Are there business people who might actually listen to James – rather than go to the dinner to watch her beg?  Not given her approach. I happened to hear a story the other day that shows how hopeless her effort is. James apparently met recently with the biggest BC business tycoon of them all: Jimmy Pattison. He was unimpressed.

As the story goes, he had a chart with Glen Clark, his right hand man.  He told Clark that he was even less impressed with her than he was before he met her. The description of the meeting went something like this: “At least you and Harcourt had a vision of what you wanted. I didn’t agree with much of it but at least you stood for something. James has got nothing – she has no vision, she doesn’t know what she wants. She just wants to please business.”

There you have it. As good an expose of James’ lack of leadership as I’ve heard.

This column originally appeared in Mr. Dobbin's blog. Reprinted with his kind permission.