Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

B.C. Premier Christy Clark answers questions during an interview at the B.C. Legislative Building in Victoria in December 2012.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

B.C. Premier Christy Clark's team had no reservations about outreach to voters that put the Premier on air last month with a Vancouver Island radio host who asked her a question using a vulgar term that refers to a sexually desirable woman.

Ms. Clark laughed at the question, passed on from a listener of 98.9 Jet in Courtenay, and said she would rather be called that four-letter acronym than a cougar.

And her controversial interview with Justin Wilcomes, known as Drex, might have been a forgotten curiosity but for the news on Tuesday that the Premier recently had a follow-up conversation with the radio host to wish him well in a new job in Vancouver.

Story continues below advertisement

As a result, some are suggesting a politician looking for support can go too far in trying to be popular, a key issue for Ms. Clark as she faces a May 14 provincial election.

Ms. Clark's communications director confirmed on Tuesday that the Premier called Mr. Wilcomes. She not only wished him professional luck, but thanked him for an apologetic e-mail. Ben Chin said that Mr. Wilcomes apologized to the Premier for the question, and for putting her in an awkward position. "It was a genuine letter," Mr. Chin said.

This week, Mr. Wilcomes tweeted: "I received a phone call from BC Premier Christy Clark today. She was far from impressed that I got fired. It was awesome that she called."

Mr. Chin defended the Premier's decision to go on the station as an appropriate part of her outreach. The station invited her, he said. "The Premier does believe it is important to reach out to British Columbians where they work, play and spend time. FM radio is part of that."

Ms. Clark's reply when asked what it is like to be a MILF caused a furor. Some criticized Mr. Wilcomes. Others targeted Ms. Clark for answering an offensive question. The incident also raised concerns about the effect on Ms. Clark's efforts to connect with female voters at a time when polls suggest they have largely rallied behind the opposition New Democrats under Adrian Dix. Pollster Mario Canseco said Ms. Clark's outreach to the classic-rock radio station was a miscalculation."Trying to appeal to a broader base makes sense, but it was probably not the best venue for it because I think you leave yourself exposed for something that is going to be unpleasant," he said. "I don't imagine Barack Obama going to the Howard Stern show to appeal to youth. It's just too risky."

Although the vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion said Ms. Clark reacted quickly, he added that there wasn't much to be gained from the effort. Ms. Clark, he said, needs some savvy outreach because of a 30-per-cent approval rating, "which is not great heading into an election."

After his conversation with the Premier, Mr. Wilcomes was fired, but bounced back professionally, starting on Monday night with a new on-air gig at 99.3 The Fox, which was happy to get him. "He's a guy who deserved a shot on a station like The Fox," said Chris Duncombe, senior program director of the Vancouver station.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Duncombe said The Fox, which targets a young male audience, had no problem with the Clark incident. "It certainly was not a deterrent. He was brought into the light to a lot of people who had never heard of him before because of that controversy. When you listen to the content [of the conversation], the Premier is playing along and laughs during the content so she clearly had no problem with it."

He noted that Ms. Clark has been a guest on The Fox, and was a member of the same corporate family in her years as a radio talk-show host in Vancouver. After leaving provincial politics in 2005 to spend more time with her family, Ms. Clark went to work at CKNW before returning to politics in 2010 to seek and win the leadership of the B.C. Liberals. Both CKNW and The Fox are owned by Corus Radio, although Mr. Duncombe noted they have very different broadcasting approaches.

Political scientist Norman Ruff said Ms. Clark was responding not as Premier, but as "Christy Clark, friendly person," and that she should have refused to answer. The professor emeritus at the University of Victoria said the whole situation reflects a lack of gravitas that has been a problem for Ms. Clark. "This exchange on the radio fully illustrates that."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies