Blair Lekstrom is best known in British Columbia as the courageous politician who quit his cabinet post over his government's imposition of the harmonized sales tax.
He'll need more than that badge of honour, though, to get him through these next few weeks if he becomes the lone provincial politician openly cheering for the wrong side in the Stanley Cup final playoffs.
It all depends on the outcome of game seven between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. If the Bruins win on Friday, it will be Canucks versus Bruins in the finals. And Mr. Lekstrom will be alone in the B.C. legislature in a sea of white-towel-waving Canucks fans.
"It's a challenging time right now. Obviously, I'm cheering for Boston," Mr. Lekstrom, now B.C.'s minister of transportation, said in an interview in his legislature office on Thursday.
Obviously, when you look around his office. His prize art on the wall is a hockey stick signed by Bruins legend Johnny Bucyk, protected behind glass. Known for his hard-hitting hip checks, Mr. Bucyk also won awards for good sportsmanship. Mr. Lekstrom would enjoy the comparison.
But that's just the centerpiece in a Bruins shrine. There's a flag, a puck, a photo - even a mantelpiece clock with the Bruins insignia. (The jersey is in the shop being framed.)
These days, most B.C. politicians can't resist waving the Canucks flag. Premier Christy Clark recently posed for a newspaper cover in a Canucks jersey. Her chief rival, Adrian Dix, was elected NDP party leader at a convention featuring a Canucks game on massive screens. Mr. Dix lost no time assuring British Columbians that his love for the team was no less than the Premier's.
But the Peace River South MLA, cementing his reputation as a maverick politician, said he could never fake it and get on the Canucks bandwagon.
He started playing hockey at the age of five, in a Pee Wee Pups league on a team named after the Bruins. "I've been a Boston Bruins fan ever since," he said. "I haven't swayed in 45 years and I don't jump ship."
Yes, he said, he's feeling the pressure from his fellow B.C. Liberals - he was only recently allowed back into caucus and cabinet - and from opposition New Democrats who cannot believe he'd dare cheer for anyone but the Canucks right now.
"Oh yeah, you bet, I take heat every day from my colleagues on both sides of the House," he said. "I'm cheering for Boston and I know many people may not like that."
Mr. Lekstrom doesn't seem to mind being on the outside, however. While other politicians pose as passengers in the annual MLA motorcycle event, Mr. Lekstrom can be counted on to ride up on his '78 Harley Davidson with a barely legal skull cap for a helmet. He's one of the rare B.C. Liberal MLAs to vote against government legislation. And last summer, Mr. Lekstrom was the first - and only - cabinet minister to speak for his constituents and oppose his government over the introduction of the harmonized sales tax, feeding a groundswell of opposition that eventually forced then-premier Gordon Campbell from office.
He is careful, at least, not to knock the home team. "I think Vancouver has shown this year they are the best team in the league, and if the team I support is lucky enough to play them in the finals, it's going to be a great series."
But he's not putting any money on a Canucks win. "I have some friendly wagers out there."Report Typo/Error