Rumour mill churns over Carole James’ ‘resignation’

Former NDP leader not ready to go just yet

Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James was shocked Monday when she found out she is retiring from political life – especially since she isn’t planning to make a decision or announce her intentions until later this month.

“I haven’t made any decision and we don’t know what happened,” said James. “It felt like a full moon day today.”

She was at the B.C. Legislature in the middle of a question period committee meeting when her staff member rushed in to ask her if she was resigning.

“I said, ‘No, I’m not.'” she said in disbelief. “By that time all the press were calling and all my family was calling.”

She learned the rumour was reported as news by a television station, and was picked up by other media outlets. James said she was told someone listened to an old tape dating back to December on which she was announcing her resignation as leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party after seven years.

“It really was quite odd. It was a strange way to start the day,” said James, a Victoria resident who has been an MLA since 2005.

Once the “news” spread, the phones began to ring. Her staff fielded 15 media calls in her office and 19 emails within a 15-minute span.

“I had (relatives) worried that something had happened, (asking) ‘Why had I made the decision so quickly without talking to anyone,'” said James.

She felt compelled to call a press scrum at the B.C. legislature, that was very well-attended, “to say the rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated, as the old quote goes,” she said beside herself with laughter.

Despite Monday’s whirlwind, James said she would stick with her plan, which includes finishing the legislative session Thursday before giving her future some serious thought.

“I’m not a believer that you hang on forever without making decisions,” she explained. “I felt that being in the legislature a full month would give me a good sense of the team, a good sense of the work and whether or not I could contribute in a different kind of role as an MLA.”

emccracken@vicnews.com