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BC Premier Christy Clark speaks to The Globe and Mail's editorial board in Toronto on June 24, 2011. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
BC Premier Christy Clark speaks to The Globe and Mail's editorial board in Toronto on June 24, 2011. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Letter from B.C.

Will Christy Clark buy time before trip to polls? Add to ...

Not that long ago, it seemed a given B.C. Premier Christy Clark would be heading to the polls this fall. Increasingly, that seems unlikely.

Shortly after winning the B.C. Liberal leadership in February, Ms. Clark stated emphatically that she preferred to get a mandate from the people early on rather than govern as an unelected premier. Even though the public was not clamouring to go to the polls, it seemed like a sound strategy on the part of the newly-minted premier.

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She was a relative fresh face, returning to government after a five-year hiatus. She had a natural charm and charisma, a refreshing change from the cold, detached personality of her predecessor, Gordon Campbell. Mostly, she had great polling numbers. Why wait for the inevitable rigors of governing to begin eroding them?

As it turns out, the erosion may be well underway.

Ms. Clark's first four months in office have not exactly been a smooth ride. She has flip-flopped on key policy matters, which has only underscored her inexperience. On that front, her ill-informed comments on Senate reform are still being talked about. She has been criticized for being more concerned about photo-ops than grappling with the many hard public policy questions of the day. Rightly or wrongly, it has allowed the provincial NDP to brand her a lightweight. The Sarah Palin of B.C.

And then there is the small matter of a war chest.

The provincial Liberal party is reported to be almost $5-million in debt. Long-time party supporters are now hoping the Premier holds off on a fall election call in favour of one next year. This would allow the party to get its financial house in order and Ms. Clark time to grow into the job a bit.

Leading a province is relentlessly demanding and unforgiving. Ms. Clark is finding that out now. A year from now, she might be far more comfortable in the position.

 

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