The knives are unsheathed in the Republic. Politics in BC constantly prove that the truth is always much more compelling, bizarre and interesting than fiction.
So, where are things at? The BC Liberals are all over the place with candidates coming out of the woodwork. In alphabetical order, some random thoughts about the contenders.
George Abbott - He is the guy to watch. He's got a lot of Liberal MLA's supporting him and Liberal member support. He's enough of a moderate and he's preaching the right approach right now to bruised insiders - he will create a more collaborative, kinder and gentler caucus. He's not going to be the big bully that Campbell has been outed to be. He's held enough important Cabinet positions that he's had a chance to demonstrate some degree of administrative experience. He's not been caught up in any big scandals. We don't know of any "special investigators" that have had to be put on the job to look into any unsavoury allegations about him over the past decade. You better believe savvy Liberal strategists know that if Abbott wins for Premier, this will be a deadly blow to the rudderless NDP.
Christy Clark - She's the biggest gift to the NDP right now, as scattered as they are currently. Reading her bio is surreal. She claims to have been a passionate supporter of families in her first term (1996), yet doesn't even mention her ill-fated turn as Minister of Children & Families. She, like a long list before and after her was very unsuccessful in that role and it was like being banished to Siberia sending her there. In fact she had one of the shortest tenures as Minister and played the "family card" when she stepped out of politics when the heat was growing too much over Basi-Virk.
She was absolutely disastrous as Minister of Education and caused a great deal of angst for many while in that role. She wasn't well liked amongst her own cabinet as Deputy Premier, a position she held during the time of the Raid on the Legislature. It's also pretty telling the only support she has from sitting MLA's and former caucus members is Harry Bloy, who has been firmly planted on the back bench even under her own time as a leader in Cabinet.
Clark is also already talking about calling a snap election if she becomes premier. Mark these words, that would spell the end of her political career for good. Since she took her break to "spend more time with her family" in 2005 and since becoming a CKNW hack, she's managed to probably piss off a number of voters. She has no current history of support in whatever riding she will run in.
BC voters are sick & tired of politicians, in general, and even more so for opportunistic ones who figure they can just show up to the party (election), with nothing to back themselves up. Voters want politicians to earn their votes. As Holman notes in the linked article above, she wouldn't even have the support of MLA's in her own party who were only elected in 2005, because some could possibly lose their pensions if they weren't re-elected. And with the HST as the ticking time bomb with voters, it would be a huge risk to go an election in 2011. She would be disastrous to her own Liberal colleagues.
The knives are really being plunged into her back right now too and demonstrating the baggage she lugs behind her to the Premier's chair and the Legislature for the BC Liberal party over the Raid on the Legislature/ Basi-Virk matters.
"To me, it's case closed." Some very damaging words, captured in this video of Clark being asked about her family involvement in this case. For a public that wants an inquiry to find out who in government was involved and responsible for the "sale" of BC Rail and all of the other boondoggling around it this was not a good, nor smart answer. Like Falcon below, it has to have you shaking your head as to why someone with THE most baggage going into this race would want to do this, or think that if they say it's over, it's over for everyone else. This speaks to insight & judgment in a big way.
IMHO, Clark is THE best Premier to lead the BC Liberals into the next election.
Mike De Jong - He's a solid candidate. No apparent dirt, no apparent "special investigations" into his conduct. Appears to be a capable, competent performer as a Cabinet minister. Rather lack lustre, not the most exciting guy, but he's not unlikable, or ruthless like some of the others are known to be. He's also responded to public feedback, such as need for an Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Women in BC.
In an apparent media grab, he was the first to propose lowering the age for voting to 16. I fail to see how this is any way relevant. He's been the Attorney General & in Cabinet for some time & never had this brainstorm before. Does he know something we don't? Has he been secretly polling teenagers? Are they clambering to elect him? It's really a non-issue and all of the candidates are looking foolish for jumping on this train.
Why, oh why, can't politicians hire strategists & communications people who have a clue how things will be perceived by the voting public before setting politicians up to look like idiots?
Kevin Falcon - His blatant attempt to re-brand himself from the ruthless, vicious and uncaring political character he's demonstrated over the last decade by using own child in ads to soften his image is enough to make even the most diehard Liberal groan. For the rest of us - it makes us want to puke until there's nothing left. If he and the mental giants running his campaign think we're all that stupid to believe this leopard can change his spots so quickly then they have drunk the same Kool Aid as the inner circle NDP'ers who thought Carole James stood a chance of winning the next election. Give us all a break.
Political karma is waiting in the wings. Falcon may have strong support with a number of Liberal MLA's, but like the NDP, they all better be thinking strategically, because even if he calls a quick election, his past actions and the disaster that is BC's health care system under his uncaring administration are top of mind for voters, especially outside of the insular urban areas.
He was also disastrously combative in his role as Minister of Transportation. Voters will also be asking themselves whether they really need another real estate developer Premier as the people of BC wonder what happened to all of the prime real estate that has been lost under this administration over the last decade and where the money went?
Like the NDP, Liberal party members better understand this, in spite of his attempts to re-brand himself as "A New Generation of Leadership," he has the stench of the same old BC Liberal party/Socred oldtimers and that will lose this party the next election. The people of BC, including Liberal voters, are hurting and just damn fed up with the way the BC Liberals have been doing things over the last decade. They want change and an end to the status quo of how this government has operated.
From the He Didn't Really Say that Did He? File:
He stated China “really has the ultimate Kevin Falcon government structure,” because “They don't have the labour or environmental restrictions we do. It's not like they have to do community consultations. They just say ‘we're building a bridge’ and they move everyone out of there and get going within two weeks. Could you imagine if we could build like that?”"
Dr. Moira Stilwell - What can you really say? She's obviously a bright, accomplished and successful woman. I don't think anyone is seeing her as a front runner for Premier and it's unclear what support she has amongst her own MLA's, party and colleagues at the Cabinet table. I say good on her for being the first to throw her hat in the ring and going on record for stating she supports raising the minimum wage, it's more than any of her other competitors have said on the matter.