The new age of British Columbia politics has arrived. Christy Clark will soon become the province’s new premier the second woman to rise to the position. Anyone remember Rita Johnston? In case you don’t, she took over the decimated and disgraced Social Credit Party shortly before the voters blasted it into oblivion.
There certainly are some similarities to Clark taking over the Liberal party, whose leader was forced out by public opinion. The Liberals, however, aren’t quite as decimated as the Bill Vander Zalm Socreds were. The Socreds were rocked by scandal after scandal involving cabinet ministers and then Vander Zalm himself.
Other than sweeping the BC Rail sale deal under the carpet, the Liberals aren’t quite at the same level of scandalous behaviour as the old Socreds were.
That could be the difference that saves Christy Clark from being a footnote in B.C. politics, like Rita Johnston.
But it won’t be easy.
By going to a third ballot and with Kevin Falcon securing 48 per cent of the points needed to become leader, it’s clear there was no clear winner Saturday night. Only 37.7 per cent of Liberals had Clark as their first choice for leader while 28.37 per cent had Kevin Falcon as their first pick. The results show that Liberals were, and are, divided on who the leader should be.
There is lots of talk now about keeping the coalition together. It’s the immediate task ahead of Clark. Like the Socreds before them, the Liberals are home to right-of-centre conservatives and to centre-right liberals. That’s the coalition W.A.C. Bennett weaved together and it’s the one Gordon Campbell also weaved back together after Vander Zalm destroyed it.
It’s not an easy task.
For today’s Liberals, Falcon is in the middle of the right-of-centre crowd, supported by big business interests. Clark, on the other hand, is more closely aligned with the federal Liberals and likely more of a small-C conservative. The question, and the task ahead of Clark, is to keep those factions in the party, clearly evident by Saturday’s vote split, together.
Without it, the Liberals will undoubtedly lose the next election.
– Prince George Free Press