Vancouver Zeitgeist
Reflections on Vancouver, British Columbia and other topics, related or not


Nobody quit

But that’s no problem. The BC Liberals have
plenty of others equally unqualified for the leader’s job

July 29, 2017

All equally suited to lead the BC Liberals

Just a few of the faceless hordes who
could run this province as well as Clark did.


Back before Gordon Campbell’s political downfall was foreseen, Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith wrote a commentary speculating who might replace the then-premier when he eventually left office. Smith didn’t mention Christy Clark. I posted an online remark (that predated my falling-out with the paper) noting the omission. My response suggested that Clark’s political hiatus would distance her from the party’s unpopular actions. Her flaky social policies, meanwhile, could attract supporters from the NDP.

As I recall, Smith responded to the effect that Clark wouldn’t want to be premier because she seeks popularity and therefore wouldn’t give up her successful radio show for a tough political job. Subsequent events might give me bragging rights, but Smith had a point. Too bad it was lost on Clark.

I think she entered politics expecting to be liked, making her maybe Canada’s first attempted politician-as-celebrity. No end of politicians have craved public stature, but not necessarily as a figure of adulation. They wanted to appear important, powerful or significant in some other way, but not necessarily like Sinatra/Presley/John-Paul-George-and-Ringo.

As a political star, Clark’s been far overshadowed by Canada’s answer to Princess Di, who enjoys advantages that escape the former premier. The all-important Quebecois embrace the PM as one of their own (although his 75% Anglo ancestry hardly makes him pure laine Frenchie), he excels Clark in his instinct to reduce discourse to platitudinous mush, plus he’s a fucking Turdeau so everyone has to treat him like royalty.

But I digress.

Clark might have been smarter to stay in media. She might have played her radio popularity into a network TV show, some kind of touchy-feely emotional crap in which she interacts with guests and a carefully screened studio audience. Maybe she thought she could do that in politics, turning British Columbia public affairs into a sort of Oprah Winfrey show.

But that wasn’t to be. Clark started off with no caucus supporters except hapless Harry Bloy, a now-retired MLA maybe slightly less retarded than Linda Reid. Clark’s lack of real support probably continued until the party’s surprising May 2013 victory killed rumours of an 8:01 Club insurgency.

But she followed last May’s failure with others: not winning over the Greens despite her potlatch budget and not convincing the lieutenant-governor to call a snap election.

It’s hard to imagine Clark holding the opposition role anyway. As a talk show host she reputedly came up with facile criticisms and solutions. That trait might have made her a superficially effective government critic. But question period gives the government the last word. How would that suit her past experience, let alone her temperament?

Then there’s the photo ops. How could she bear to watch someone else, especially an attention-lover as obvious as John Horgan, steal the limelight that seemed her strongest political motivation?

Her legacy, according to media, consists of successive balanced budgets. But they resulted partly by raiding BC Hydro coffers, money which should go into new infrastructure. Oh well, with NDP and Greens now opposed to new electricity generation, what else is there to do with rising hydro bill revenue but buy off voters?

Balanced budgets notwithstanding, the debt expanded. Nice trick, that.

Then of course there’s the tendency of new governments to find that their predecessors didn’t balance their last budget after all. We’ll wait and see on that one.

So with one nobody out, who’s next? The more interesting names include Dianne Watts. As a former mayor of Surrey—as any mayor of anywhere—she held a tougher job than any BC Liberal cabinet minister. She seems to inspire some kind of empathy, maybe by appearing sincere without acting out the role. (Her current official photo belies that impression.) But would she be up to opposition leader effectiveness? Or even party leader effectiveness? Or would she even want to risk her federal Conservative seat?

As for Sam Sullivan, any BC Liberals opposed to the NDP-supporting poverty pimp industry and its opportunistic flakery would oppose him. That’s if there are any such BC Liberals. Interim leader Rich Coleman’s certainly not one. Sullivan would have to be careful, though, to not exhaust delegates’ patience with constant reminders of his Almighty Wheelchair status. I can’t help wondering how much this guy would inflame Horgan’s predatory instincts. The BC Liberals could only benefit, however, from the spectacle of a bullying premier bawling out a helpless cripple.

Kevin Falcon had long hoped to become Campbell’s heir. Proficiency in public policy would make him an exemplar of B.C. politics, should he come out of retirement. Impossible to imagine that he doesn’t. Good chance that he’d ditch the Clark throne speech promises and re-rebrand the BC Liberals as something distinct from the NDP/Greens. He might even resurrect the pretence that his party represents small businesses, the middle class and working people. Then again, he’s a B.C. politician. As in Clark’s throne speech, ambition will always trump convictions.

Of course, there’s the ethnics. Unless Chinese and Punjabis can unite, however, a whitey might prevail after all.

But Clark’s term set the bar low, very low. Any number of people could skip over it and into the leadership race.

How’s my blogging?