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Say what you will about Liberal Leader Christy Clark's deficiencies as a politician, being naive about the dark side of the business she is in has never been one of them.

Ms. Clark has mostly glided through her six years-and-counting as Premier exhibiting an air of supreme self-confidence – an assuredness that only grew when she beat back a caucus revolt and went on to win the 2013 election against the expectation of almost everyone.

With so much going for them economically, the Liberals thought they were going to win this week's election pretty handily.

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That didn't happen, and now Ms. Clark suddenly appears vulnerable again. She, as well as anyone, knows what happens when a leader develops a chink in the armour; people come out of the woodwork to exploit it.

Or at least display a level of bravery that was not as visible when she and her party seemed invincible.

Enter former Liberal cabinet minister and one-time leadership challenger Kevin Falcon.

In an extraordinarily candid interview with the Vancouver Sun this week, the former finance minister and Gordon Campbell protégé let his views be known about what happened in the election, one that has left the Liberals, for now anyway, with a minority government.

Mr. Falcon told the paper that, in his opinion, his party got throttled in Metro Vancouver because the Liberals spent too much time playing politics around transportation issues (see: picking fights with Metro mayors over funding) and not enough time rolling up their sleeves to solve problems.

An observation with which it is impossible to disagree.

He went on to say that the Liberals also blew it by not dealing with "perceived ethical issues, the campaign finance issues that were never really addressed."

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"I think that really gnawed at people and it bothered them and that was reflected in a negative vote," Mr. Falcon said.

Again, as someone who has been hammering hard on this drum for a while now, I find it hard to argue with Mr. Falcon's assessment.

In Metro Vancouver, affordability is a major issue. And by not addressing campaign finance reform and the legacy of cash-for-access dinners with the party's rich donors, the Liberals allowed the New Democrats and the Greens to exploit both concerns at once.

The New Democrats, in particular, tapped into the anger around the high cost of living and dovetailed it with simmering resentment over the perception the province's wealthiest citizens have a bigger say than the rest of us in government policy-making.

The NDP made it their overarching campaign message: The rich have had their premier, now it's time the rest of the province had theirs.

Strategically, it was brilliant.

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Liberals I have talked to about Mr. Falcon's comments have roughly broken into two camps: one that believes they were observations that needed to be made publicly and, as a private citizen with some history in the party, he had every right to make them; and the other group that feels it was both too soon and unhelpful and makes it appear that jostling may already be under way to challenge Ms. Clark's leadership.

Personally, I think that theory is a little far-fetched. Not that I don't think Mr. Falcon might consider another run for the Liberal leadership if the job was suddenly vacant.

But I doubt his interview with the Sun was part of some master plan to undermine Ms. Clark and set about stealing her job.

There is also the other not-so-small fact that Christy Clark is not going anywhere, at least right now. The Liberals are planning to govern in a minority situation, with all that that entails. (They are also considering what governing with a razor-thin majority would look like).

While certainly not privy to any confidential blueprint that is formulating, I suspect the Liberals will try to make things work with the Greens for a couple of years and while attempting to shore up the weaknesses the party has in Metro Vancouver ahead of another election.

That seems like a completely reasonable strategy.

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What is less clear is just how much blame the Liberal hierarchy is going to accept for the result. If it has humbled them, you would not know it. Ms. Clark has refused to accept any personal responsibility for the outcome. The complete lack of contrition, while perhaps not surprising, has to be disappointing for Liberals everywhere.

When the leader is not willing to be accountable for a disappointing outcome, to acknowledge that perhaps changes are needed in the way the party governs, it sends the wrong message to grassroots members and can lead to lots of internal grumbling, and eventually much worse.

It's hard to imagine Christy Clark is blind to that reality.

Columnist Gary Mason says British Columbia is now a divided province, with the Liberals finding support in the interior and north, while the NDP dominates in Metro Vancouver. But the latter region is growing while the interior remains stagnant, leaving a question over the Liberals' future election prospects.
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