British Columbia

Climate activist Anjali Appadurai enters B.C. NDP leadership race

The contest to become the next leader of the BC NDP — and ultimately premier of B.C. — is no longer a one-horse race.

Appadurai says her campaign will focus on the environment, housing, food security and caring for communities

Anjali smiles for the camera. She is wearing a white top and has red streaks in her black hair.
Anjali Appadurai previously ran as the federal NDP candidate for Vancouver Granville in the 2021 election, losing narrowly. (Joy Gyamfi)

The contest to become the next leader of the BC NDP — and ultimately premier of B.C. — is no longer a one-horse race.

Former federal NDP candidate and climate activist Anjali Appadurai, 32,  officially announced Wednesday she will challenge David Eby, who has stepped down from his roles as attorney general and minister responsible for housing, for the top spot.

Appadurai, the director of campaigns for the organization Climate Emergency Unit, said that she chose to enter the race after a group of supporters pledged more than $40,000 at an online meeting Saturday night — enough to cover her entry fee.

"I think British Columbians are ready for a leader who will tell them the truth. We're in a very dangerous situation. But I believe in our collective power to shape a different future," said Appadurai.

She said her campaign will focus on the environment, clean energy, housing, food security and caring for communities.

"Our province is not healthy. The people are not healthy, and the land is stressed," said Appadurai. "We need a government that will prioritize the health of people and the planet.

B.C. NDP leadership candidate Anjali Appadurai works as the director of campaigns for the Climate Emergency Unit. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

In the 2021 federal election, Appadurai was the NDP candidate for the riding of Vancouver Granville. She lost to Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed in one of the tightest races in the country, falling short by less than 500 votes.

Appadurai will face off against Eby, whose campaign, up until now, has been unchallenged, gaining the endorsement of 48 of the 57 members of the B.C. NDP caucus.

In a statement, Eby welcomed Appadurai to the race.

"I look forward to engaging in a productive dialogue about the issues that matter most to British Columbians. This race is an opportunity for a healthy exchange of ideas and a chance for members to have their voices heard through the electoral process," he said.

"I wish her luck, but not too much luck."

In June, Horgan announced he would step down before the next provincial election, citing a lack of energy after undergoing treatment for throat cancer.

Voting for the new leader will begin Nov. 13, with the winner to be announced Dec. 3. 

Uphill battle for Appadurai, says expert

Eby announced he was seeking the leadership in the middle of July. Ahead of that, he had long been rumoured as a potential candidate and front runner.

Hamish Telford, associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley, admits it will likely be an uphill battle for any challenger.

"He has a very substantial lead ... She's going to really have to play catchup now and get herself known outside of the activist circles of downtown Vancouver, but across the province," said Telford, adding that she will likely face a significant fundraising challenge.

David Eby smiles for the camera. He is wearing a cream-coloured spotted shirt.
B.C. NDP leadership candidate David Eby has received the support of 48 caucus members. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

While it's unclear whether Appadurai will be able to close the gap, Telford says she will challenge Eby and the party intellectually.

"This will be a battle of ideas," said Telford, pointing to Appadurai's environmental and activist background.

He predicts she could prove an attractive option for B.C. NDP members who have felt let down by the government's environmental record following the approval of Site C, the LNG project and old growth logging.

Saanich North and the Islands Green Party MLA  Adam Olsen is keenly watching how Appadurai's challenge for the leadership will shake up discussions during the race around the environment, saying that Eby represents the status quo.

"For many years, the B.C. NDP has been seen as good enough on the environment, and clearly, good enough is not good enough. 

"I'm really looking forward to this debate happening in the leadership race."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joel Ballard is a reporter with the CBC in Vancouver. You can reach him at joel.ballard@cbc.ca

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