Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Scandal a Day Keeps the Voters Away: BC Liberal poll numbers signal defeat

Geeze, I think BC could have an inquiry on Shirley Bond alone. She's been so successful at keeping below the radar while being up to her eyeballs in many things.

A quick scan of both rags for Prince George brings up zilch on this story. Maybe this is why print media is dying - too much coverage of bake sales, and the like, while local media stop doing its job and reporting on real issues that are important to readers and voters.

A new headache for the Clark government
Sean Leslie, Victoria/CKNW(AM980), 3/6/2013.

It's the last thing the Clark government needs: Another scandal.

Cabinet ministers Pat Bell and Shirley Bond are under fire for their alleged roles in trying to influence a 25-million dollar government project in Prince George.

At issue is whether Bell and Bond exerted pressure to secure funding for a wood development centre in their hometown of Prince George; then left two local businessman who put land together for the project out hundreds of thousands of dollars when they didn't make the short list.

New Democrat M.L.A. Maurine Karagianis is calling for a full investigation.
"These are very serious allegations, not to be taken lightly not to be brushed off by the jobs minister."

Jobs Minister Pat Bell says he did nothing wrong by asking the Northern Development Trust to lend money to the unlucky developers.

"We do exactly that Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the member opposite would do that if she had the opportunity as well."

Premier Christy Clark is standing by her ministers.


B.C. election outlook: Is Christy Clark's goose cooked?

By Michael Smyth, The Province March 7, 2013.

For Clark, a recent series of political pratfalls may have sealed her doom, and an election win in May looks as impossible as ever.

For Dix, his rival's self-destructive habits have put him on a fast-track to the premier's office. Judging by the polls, and the Liberals' screw-ups, it looks impossible for Dix to lose.

Now the pollsters and political scientists are weighing in: Dix has a big lead and his opponent is mired in scandal. He should win — and fairly easily, too.

And, unfortunately for Clark, she's a lot farther behind than 10 points and she's probably fallen farther back as a result of the ethnic-outreach scandal.

"I think the last week has pretty much baked it," said the University of B.C.'s Richard Johnston. "A week is a long time in politics and all that, but Dix would have to succumb to massive hubris to blow it."

But Clark has a new disadvantage going into this campaign: the fresh ethnic-outreach scandal that forced the resignation of her deputy and a cabinet minister.

"Too many setbacks," observed Allan Warnke, of Vancouver Island University. "For the B.C. Liberals, nothing had to go wrong."

Warnke said the scandal will blunt the effect of Liberal attack ads against Dix over the 1999 memo-to-file affair, in which Dix back-dated a memo in the casino scandal that brought down former NDP premier Glen Clark.

"The negative ads are dead," he said. "Unless there is an 'April Surprise' the Libs can spring, or a huge error or indiscretion involving prominent New Democrats, Dix and the NDP are home-free."

Pollster Mario Canseco, though, points to the party's "phenomenal" voter-retention rate. "Roughly nine in 10 people who voted for the NDP under Carole James are still with the party under Adrian Dix," said Canseco, of Angus Reid Public Opinion.

"Conversely, the retention rate for the Liberals is about 66 per cent, so a third of their voters have left them."

Given all that, Hamish Telford thinks the Liberals shouldn't plan on shocking the world, but plan on picking up the pieces of a shattered party. "Forget about winning and focus solely on winning enough seats to save the party," said Telford, of the University of the Fraser Valley.

"If they come back with fewer than five or 10 seats, I suspect the Liberal Party will disappear."

© Copyright (c) The Province.

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