07/19/2013 07:35 EDT | Updated 09/18/2013 05:12 EDT

NDP Election Panel To Study Huge B.C. Loss


VICTORIA - The NDP's stunning election loss has prompted the party to appoint a panel that will review why it stayed out of office after pundits predicted victory at the polls.

Panel members include Newton-North Delta NDP MP Jinny Sims, former Manitoba NDP finance minister Eugene Kostyra, Metro Vancouver's former Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union president Andy Ross, Federation of Post Secondary Educators of BC president Cindy Oliver and a law student from Terrace.

Four of the five panel members who will be analyzing the May election results have ties to organized labour.

The panel is slated to provide the results of its review at a convention in November, when there could also be a review of leader Adrian Dix.

"The panel may report out to the provincial (NDP) executive in a format of its own choosing but in any case must report to the 2013 convention with recommendations that focus on how to successfully move forward to an election victory in 2017," said the panel's terms of reference.

Manitoba's Kostyra was a finance minister in the 1980s. He later held high-ranking civil service positions with the NDP governments of Gary Doer. Kostyra was also a leader with the Canadian Union of Public Employees in that province. In 2010, he received an award in recognition of workers' rights accomplishments in Manitoba.

Ross spearheaded a COPE initiative in 2010 that called on former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell to launch a public inquiry into the sale of Crown-owned BC Rail.

Oliver has been president of the Post Secondary Educators of BC for much of the last decade. She is an officer of the B.C. Federation of Labour and an outspoken advocate for improved skills training in B.C.

Sims, the federal MP's immigration and multiculturalism critic, is a former president of the BC Teachers' Federation, and Pam Sihota is currently studying law in Terrace.

Dix announced plans for an election review panel shortly after the May 14 election in which the Liberals were re-elected to their fourth consecutive mandate even though pollsters and most New Democrats were convinced that party would be back in power.

"After leading in the public opinion polls for the better part of four years, the BC NDP ended up with 39.7 per cent of the vote compared to 44.1 per cent for the BC Liberals," said an NDP statement introducing the panel's terms of reference.

The review panel will seek submissions from NDP members, unions and voters.

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