Sudbury native Harry Bloy is in the provincial cabinet because of one blinding moment of political insight.
After nine years languishing on the government's dusty backbenches, the former Boy Scout leader had the remarkable wisdom – alone among the 46 or so members of the B.C. Liberal caucus – to realize that talk-show host Christy Clark was the best person in all B.C. to replace boss Gordon Campbell.
With that demonstrated depth of sagacity, Ms. Clark can be forgiven for thinking that her lone caucus supporter had the smarts to manage a cabinet post as well.
Alas, matters did not go swimmingly. On Day 1 of his appointment, Mr. Bloy told reporters he would have more to say about his social development portfolio once he "got a handle" on it. He never did.
"Social Development Minister Harry Bloy was not available for comment" became a mantra for reporters covering the growing controversy over the closing of long-term group homes that forced the developmentally disabled into private homes.
As ministry staff burned the midnight oil piling up briefing notes for the beleaguered minister, wags suggested the real reason Premier Clark abandoned her thirst for an election until 2014 was to give Mr. Bloy yet more time to master the job.
Eventually, however, even the Premier became more mild than wild about Harry. This week, she bumped Mr. Bloy down to minister of state for multiculturalism, still in her cabinet, but well hidden behind the china.
NPA makes small talk
The Sunday morning knock on the door was sufficiently vigorous to rouse me from the slothful embrace of my endlessly-watching-sports-on-TV sofa to see who in heck could that be. Not another tradesman looking for work in Christy Clark's British Columbia thought I, as a young fella in painter's cap, casual shirt, shorts and sandals stood on the doorstep.
But no. It was none other than (cue the trumpets), NPA candidate for council Joe Carangi, cheerfully making the rounds in this vast city that has no wards.
I was charmed that Mr. Carangi was throwing himself so enthusiastically into the campaign. He even pretended to laugh when I asked whether the NPA was blaming Mayor Gregor Robertson for the earthquake earlier this month. Maybe the city could use some of this youthful new blood.
After Joltin' Joe waved goodbye, however, I looked at his promotional card, and there was the tired old NPA line: "Vancouver deserves better from City Hall than promoting chicken coops, wheat on our lawns, or runaway bike lanes."
Is that it? People should vote NPA because they're against backyard chickens, and they don't like a small project growing wheat on a few lawns?
No matter, apparently, that the waving wheat fund amounts to all of $5,000 in a city budget of around a billion bucks, or that NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton said in 2009: "In principle, I like the idea [of backyard chickens]."
As an occasional practitioner of juvenile gibes myself (sorry, Spam), isn't it time for the NPA to move on from the insignificant to the weighty. "No backyard chicken in any pot" seems a trivial message for the masses. (Bulletin: so far, a grand total of 54 residents have registered to crack yolks from home-raised hens.)
As for those "runaway bike lanes," perhaps the less said about Ms. Anton's vote on that matter the better.
Since Mr. Carangi's brief but enjoyable call, the NPA has moved on to propose a streetcar line for only $80-million or so. I've loved streetcars since riding the creaking Yonge Street car in Toronto 800 years ago, but expecting TransLink to endorse a 21st century version of "clang, clang, clang went the trolley" is fanciful, at best. To paraphrase former premier Bill Bennett's quip about light-rail transit advocate Jim Lorimer of the NDP: "This is a streetcar named retire."
C'mon, NPA. The election's in seven weeks. Time to get serious.
Headline of the week comes from a local Vancouver newspaper that once had, not one, but two labour reporters, one of whom was me. it read: "Embattled head of B.C. Ferries shows leadership by stepping aside."
Congratulations, David Hahn. That's exactly the kind of leadership this country needs. Resignations. And could you leave your pension behind on the way out?
Meanwhile, Peter MacKay, are you listening? Or are you too busy getting yet more briefings aboard noisy search-and-rescue helicopters that just happen to be flying you homewards from a summer vacation?
What happens when tens of thousands of football fans merge with thousands of wild and crazy music lovers at the CBC's free downtown concert. featuring Stars and The New Pornographers? Tune in about 10 o'clock Friday night.
But remember, if anything bad happens, they are not real Canuck fans.