Oh, that Christy Clark. As I headed into the Segal Graduate School of Business for her glitzy, well-choreographed Liberal leadership announcement, pelting rain was bouncing off the bike lanes. By the time Ms. Clark had joined the other four candidates in saying nothing about climate change or the carbon tax, even the weather had fallen under her spell. The deluge disappeared. In its place was a real-life replica of Christy’s sunshine campaign logo, ol’ Sol himself. That kind of clout with the Lady Upstairs is scary.
Inside, Ms. Clark had been her usual, peppy, partisan self, pledging to do things differently than the current Premier, who led the Liberals to three straight election victories.
What struck me most (ouch!) about her leadership launch, however, was Ms. Clark’s blistering, over-the-top attack on the NDP. Nothing wrong with slamming the Opposition. Pretty tame politics without that. But the extent of her inflammatory rhetoric was surprising.
It was as if she were frozen in 2001, the last time Ms. Clark ran for provincial office.
I particularly enjoyed her accusation that the NDP doesn’t stand up for families but only for “themselves [and] the same old elites … big unions.” Boring old people like me remember when the province really was awash in large, powerful unions. But these days, except for a small handful of public sector unions, the B.C. labour movement is a mere walking shadow of its former strutting self.
Sure, some unions still funnel money to the NDP, as big business does to the Liberals. But isn’t it time to move on, and let these tired old bogeymen rest in peace?
Speaking of big, bad, union elites, Clark backers Bob Rennie, the condo king, wealthy developer Peter Wall and controversial backroom strategist Patrick Kinsella are just plain folks, I guess.
Charging that the NDP actually “wants” to “beat up” British Columbians, Ms. Clark added that one of her main reasons for re-entering politics was to keep the New Democrats down on the farm, so to speak, after they’ve seen Victoria.
Cheekily, one wonders why keeping the NDP from power wasn’t equally important in 2005 and 2009, when Ms. Clark stayed on the electoral sidelines. Of course, there was no vacancy beckoning in the premier’s office.
It’s interesting to compare Ms. Clark’s heated anti-NDP rhetoric with the graceful message sent out by leadership rival Mike de Jong shortly after Carole James stepped down as head of the NDP.
“This is a difficult day for [Ms. James],” Mr. de Jong said. “It is a day to reflect upon her years of public service and to thank her for her contribution to public life in B.C.
“I appreciate how difficult a decision this must be. Though our opinion on many issues may have differed, I have never doubted her commitment to her constituency and the people of the province.”
So much for Ms. James wanting to “beat up” British Columbians. Mr. de Jong’s missive was also more heartfelt by light years than anything New Democrat Jenny Kwan had to say about Ms. James’s contribution, after so publicly skewering her leader.
Very classy, Mr. de Jong. Or, as Christy Clark might say, what a wimp.
Yet more. It’s all Christy, all the time. Have I fallen victim to her charms? Guilty, my lord.
Anyway, for those mining CKNW’s audio vaults for neat past pronouncements during Ms. Clark’s four feisty years as one of the station’s hotline hosts, I refer you to Nov. 17.
That’s the day Bill Bennett’s ministerial colleagues turfed him from cabinet for calling on Gordon Campbell to step down immediately as Premier rather than hang on until a new leader is chosen.
On the air, Ms. Clark agreed with Mr. Bennett. “It’s patently obvious to everyone that the Premier cannot stick around as a lame duck. … [His] power has evaporated. He cannot govern. He has to resign.”
She was aghast that some of those interested in replacing Mr. Campbell “[colluded] in the firing of the one guy who’s got the guts to stand up and speak the truth.”
Not long afterward, Ms. Clark was at her hotline best, subjecting Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak to a barrage of withering questions over the ministry’s handling of a case involving a 15-year old girl with Down syndrome, left alone with her mother’s dead body for days.
There were numerous testy exchanges, as Ms. Clark – appropriately – pressed the icy minister for answers. Should Ms. Clark become premier, I look forward to Ms. Polak’s new posting. If any.