The B.C. Liberal game plan for outflanking the B.C. Conservatives should include working around that party’s leader and some bold measure to woo back disaffected Liberals now in the Conservative camp, says departing Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger.
On Wednesday, the outspoken Kamloops-South Thompson member, first elected in 1996, announced that he will not seek another term in the May, 2013 election for reasons that include spending more time with a family that includes seven grandchildren and returning to his job as an ICBC manager. Mr. Krueger has basically been on leave since entering provincial politics.
“I have reached my best-before date,” quipped Mr. Krueger, who said he did not expect many other MLAs from the class of 1996 would stand down and not seek re-election..
But he said the Liberals can win a fourth term - noting there is a strong candidate he declined to name lined up to seek the Liberal nomination in his riding - and that dealing with the provincial Conservatives, who threaten to split the centre-right vote, includes detouring around leader John Cummins.
“I think they have just got to go around him, and that’s what they’re doing,” he said. “We’re appealing to the coalition. When we’re foolish enough to split it down, the NDP come up the middle, of course.”
Mr. Krueger said Premier Christy Clark, himself and other members of caucus are taking that tack, one on one, on every possible occasion.
“We’ll take whatever forum we can get, even if it’s one on one conversation, and we will explain if we do fail to learn from history, we will repeat it.”
Mr. Krueger also said some major police gesture by the B.C. Liberals would be helpful in rallying B.C. Conservatives back to the governing party.
“I can’t quite picture what that bold move would be, but I think we will do it,” he said.
In 2009, Mr. Krueger won his riding by 54 per cent over his nearest rival - the NDP candidate, who scored 35 per cent.
Mr. Krueger was infamous for some of his remarks.
Earlier this summer, Mr. Krueger dismissed ex-colleague John van Dongen, who defected to the B.C. Conservatives, as “this little man with his jealousy and his self-serving behaviour,” noting Mr. van Dongen tried to recruit him, in 2010, into a mutiny against former premier Gordon Campbell.
During the same scrum, Mr. Krueger dismissed as “just baloney” suggestions by NDP Leader Adrian Dix that he had lost his SkyTrain ticket when found without proper fare.
On another occasion, he had to apologize for suggesting, in the wake of the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, that Mr. Dix should lower his profile or risk having his head shot off.
“If there ever was a guy who shouldn’t put his head up to get it shot off, as the soldiers refer to it, it’s Adrian Dix,” he told a Kamloops radio station.
Ms. Clark has been supportive of Mr. Krueger’s right to speak his mind, and he said he had always appreciated that.
He said being blunt was part of his nature. “The people I have lived around want frankness and honest. I like cutting to the chase,” he said.
“I really don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I have been a Christian all my life. It’s far more important to me that I am Christ like than that I win an argument, but I don’t believe in holding back and not taking a position. I think that’s what people elected me to do.”
Still, he said he had sometimes been in the wrong. “I think I deserved a lot of the criticism for choosing the wrong words.”