Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clark’s stumbles raise political questions

So how’s Christy Clark doing, after four months as premier? That’s a big question for the Liberals. If Clark is doing well, they can afford to delay an election. If not, a fall election is in the cards.
Only a few people know how effective Clark has been in getting the right things done in government - MLAs, deputy ministers, and those affected by government decisions.
Most of us form opinions on what we read about her performance, or see on the news, or our vague sense of what she’s done.
And the media narrative seems to be turning a bit negative.
Clark started well, but that was easy. She just had to not be Gordon Campbell.
So Clark raised the minimum wage - a good and overdue step. She fired both the minister and the top manager in the children and families ministry. She ordered a review of B.C. Hydro’s politically ordered, expensive plans. And she floated a proposal to save the HST, acknowledging the Liberals had been planning to gouge families and benefit corporations.
And she was likable, donning a Canucks’ jersey and just being darn enthusiastic. Clark is a an excellent politician. She sounds good, if you don’t listen too hard.
But the tide seemed to shift last month.
First, Clark sent an unclear message after the Stanley Cup riots. She was hardline initially. “If you are responsible, we will hold you responsible. Your family, friends and employers will know," she said. "We will ensure we have the resources to do this. You will not be able to hide behind your hoodie or your bandana." Get ready for a jail cell, Clark said.
Then she backtracked. The target was a “core” group of instigators, not young people who just got caught “when they were most likely to make a colossal, irreparable mistake.”
Then Clark floated weird ideas for Senate reform in her first official Ottawa visit.
B.C. is shortchanged in the Senate. The province, with 4.5 million people, is represented by six senators. New Brunswick, with 750,000 people, has 10. But fixing the imbalance requires a change to the constitution, virtually impossible given the amending formula and the opposition of provinces that would lose seats.
In Ottawa, Clark said her first choice is abolition. But she had lawyers looking at whether senators could be added for B.C. without changing the constitution, she said.
That’s a nonstarter, experts agree. Adding senators is clearly a constitutional change.
Later, Clark said she had floated a different idea with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He should leave Senate seats vacant in Atlantic Canada and Quebec so B.C. and other under-represented provinces would have more clout.
The ideas was widely derided as goofy and legally dubious. What prime minister would rile voters in five provinces by deliberately failing to appoint the senators they were entitled to under the constitution?
This week, Clark stumbled on a plan to use a gas tax increase to help pay for a new transit line in the Lower Mainland. Mayors had negotiated the plan and Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom said the province backed it.
But in a press conference Monday, Clark suggested she might veto the gas tax.
“When British Columbians say that they’re not really excited about paying more gas taxes, I get that,” Clark said. “Because my focus as premier is about how do we make life more affordable for people rather than less affordable.”
By Wednesday, Lekstrom was smoothing the waters and assuring the mayors it was all a misunderstanding.
On one hand, it’s welcome to have a politician willing to stray from carefully crafted and often meaningless talking points. Voters might find some candour, even thinking out loud, welcome.
But the risk is that Clark will be seen as a policy lightweight given to speaking and acting without sufficient thought, and at risk of making big mistakes.
In politics, unfortunately, it’s tough to shake that kind of image once it takes hold.
Footnote: The HST referendum remains the big election factor. If the HST is dumped, the next question will be how many of the former PST exemptions will be cancelled as the government looks to increase revenue. Those decisions could rekindle all the original anti-HST anger and more.


pip said...

Not to mention the BC Ferry fiasco

RossK said...

Let's say the vote is YES to extinguish the HST...

And then let's say that the gov't then extinguishes the previous PST exemptions (which is not an impossibility given that Mr. Falcon has clearly left that door open).

Would that not mean that we essentially would end up, for all intents and purposes, with the HST-level tax increase we just voted to extinguish?

Gosh, if that were to happen, I would think that recall efforts with all the steam and anger, not to mention support, of the original petition might suddenly erupt like, say, Krakatoa, circa 1883.


DPL said...

She got used to quick and flip answers while a hot liner who most folks never listened to anyway. Now with a much larger audience she better learn to listen to her advisers before opening her mouth before her mind is in gear.

Anonymous said...

Please be nice to Princess Christy - she has a long running BC Rail hangover.

Anonymous said...

BC has vast natural resources. Even though Campbell thieved and sold BC's assets, the BCR and the very valuable real estate that went with the railroad? Where did that money go?

And our rivers, which has totally destroyed BC hydro. Where did that money go? Where is the money from, all of BC's many mines, the gas fields, the massive amount of money from China for our timber? What about, the mega bucks from tourism, which Campbell always bragged about? Where is the money from our BC mills? From our HST?

There is no damned excuse for this province, to be in this terrible financial condition.

The HST was just a scam by, Campbell, Hansen and Harper, to thieve from the people, for the benefit of big business. The blatant lies, the HST would bring jobs, the hell it did. BC is bleeding jobs, right, left and center, because of the HST.

Big business, has not "trickled", any of their HST savings to the consumer. We knew they wouldn't, they are bottomless pits of greed. Instead, they have put their prices way up.

In a recession, prices should be rolled back and frozen, especially in BC. If big business doesn't like it, they can get the hell out of BC. Kick all the foreign gas company's out of BC, while we're at it.

How stupid is a government, that allows prices to go through the roof, in a recession. Another carbon tax grab. The HST grab. No jobs, no pay raises. Campbell and the BC Liberals, didn't have a lick of common sense. The ministers, sat on their butts, did absolutely nothing to stop Campbell's insanity. And shame on them, allowing that evil tyrant, to ruin, a once beautiful province.

We know Campbell was working for Harper. He did a lot of dirty work for Harper. And, by the way. Campbell will not be welcomed in England. The Brits don't take the crap from their government, the way Canadians do. Campbell is to promote, the dirty tar sands. The English people, are dead set against, the filthy tar sands crud. The Brits will get him, and so will the paparazzi. All Campbell's dirty work and his mug shots, have preceded Campbell to London.

If Christy and her Liberals had, a nano bit of logistics. They should be able to see. Campbell's treachery, has destroyed this province and the people. There is nothing in this province, that isn't corrupt, including Elections BC.

The BC Liberals, have been tarred by Campbell's theft and corrupt sale of the BCR. That fiasco, is not going to go away.