Outgoing provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix said the race to replace him is already in full swing, but he's not surprised no candidates have formally entered the contest.
"I think what the candidates would do rightly is wait for a date to be decided and see the rules and then they go forward from there," Dix said during a visit to Prince George on Wednesday.
The party is expected to decide in the coming weeks when a vote will be held to replace Dix as party leader, with some groups within the NDP calling for a vote as soon as May and others wishing for the vote to be delayed until next fall or even 2015.
Dix said until that logistical issue is sorted out, it would be premature for people to start declaring their candidacy.
"Effectively what happens when you become a candidate, you have obligations under the Elections Act and everything else, so once you start, you start," he said. "You have to set up your team and address all those questions."
Dix announced his intention to step down in September, four months after the NDP failed to capitalize on strong support in opinion polls and lost the general election to the governing Liberals.
Some possible candidates, like Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen, would like to see the contest delayed until 2015 to give others more time to prepare a run for the top job, but Dix said his preference would be to have a new leader in place sometime in 2014.
He said even if the vote were to be held in May, that would be more than eight months after he announced his intention to step down. If it's delayed until the fall potential candidates would have a full year to get ready.
"I think all of these dates provide a good opportunity for candidates to get involved and run strong campaigns," he said. "I suspect we're going to see great candidates, I'm looking forward to the race."
If the vote is delayed for any length of time, Dix said he would have no problem staying on longer as leader until his successor is picked and described his mood about the whole process as "serene."
Once the leadership field is set, Dix won't come out and endorse any particular candidate.
"I think they're all great, I'm going to endorse them all," he said.