Who’s Running BC?

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It has been a month of amateurish politics starting with the government posting the auditor-general’s job. Then this week the government backed down several steps to keep from ejecting the well-respected A-G John Doyle from his chair with an attempt at saving face by changing the legislation surrounding his appointment. As if they meant to do that anyway.

But there’s something fishing about how the premier backed down this week. Take a look:

In a move described by critics as a massive flip-flop and policy making on the fly, Clark on Wednesday proposed legislative changes to the Auditor General’s Act while also expressing her “hope” that the three Liberal MLAs on the committee would vote to reappoint Doyle for another two years.

– via B.C. Premier Clark asks auditor-general John Doyle to stay on for two more years

The A-G appointment must be done by unanimous consent of the responsible legislative committee, that is majority-led by the government. Yet the premier indicated [in bold above] that she hopes her MLAs on the committee will reappoint Doyle for the remainder of his new legislatively extended term.

Hope? Let’s examine that.

  1. If she has control of her caucus she can direct her MLAs to vote as she wants in a committee. This means she approved of the committee expiring Doyle in the first place and now she is responding to the backlash by trying to fix the error. In this case, her “hope” that her MLAs will vote to retain Doyle is just spin and fluff.
  2. Or, she does not have control of her caucus and the committee dumped Doyle on their own and now she is responding to the backlash to fix the optics problem and she quite honestly hopes they’ll keep Doyle.
  3. Or, she knew about but didn’t care about the committee expiring Doyle, and now she has decided to back down on that.
  4. Or, legislative committees always operate independently of party whipping, but I’ve seen no evidence of this.
  5. Or, other options?

Regardless of which of the above options is the truth, this whole affair is bad for a credibility-challenged government struggling to look professional and competent, while getting caught up in commenting way too much on MILFs.

May 14 is election day. Make sure you are registered to vote and that Elections BC HAS YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS!

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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4 thoughts on “Who’s Running BC?”

  1. Electoral politics is the driving force in British Columbia today. Clark is responding to potential problems like Doyle in a manner calculated to cause her government the least damage at the polls.

    Now we’ve got Alberta Conservatives organizing to meddle in our election. The Times Colonist has an eye-opener about Rod Love’s campaign to raise money to help Clark and her Liberals. The memo even comes right out and states that it might help Christy support the Northern Gateway.

    It’s so typically Alberta-American and it’s revolting.

  2. Nothing surprises me with this government. Clark has no control of anything let alone her caucus. She is a figure head (nice figure empty head) for this dying party. In the next election they will go the way of the NDP… oops wait a minute, the NDP will most likely win, but didn’t they get literally thrown out a few elections back? Whoa…only in BC politics.

  3. Who’s running BC? In a nutshell: not Christy.
    Recall the prancing majorette returned from hiatus during the critically wounded BC Liberal party’s emergency leadership campaign. No one in caucus supported Christy save the hapless Harry Bloy. Hitherto a lacklustre, perennial backbencher, Bloy correctly predicted the only leadership contestant that would reward his support would be Christy Clark; she pretty much had to, considering the dearth of support elsewhere in caucus. Bloy got a supposedly safe portfolio which he promptly set about screwing up before being forced to resign. Now Christy was alone in caucus in more ways than just being Premier.

    The disgraced Campbellite faction convinced Christy to hold off on her campaign promise of holding an early election (they knew they were unelectable) and probably cursed under their breath when she subsequently won, by the narrowest of margins in a supposed safe riding, the by-election which won her a seat. It was the best chance to get rid of her and it didn’t work.

    The Campbellites’ biggest problem then became one of controlling their new leader’s penchant for throwing out ill-considered policy promises that were putting flies in their ointment, once again cowing her into submission.

    Christy’s best shot at winning a general election was squandered when she broke her early election promise and it showed quickly: from polling numbers in the respectable mid-forties range, her numbers tanked immediately when she instead called the by-election (when everyone realized she intended to ride out the two years left in Campbell’s ruined mandate.) Joining the Campbellites at the bottom of the tank did nothing to improve relations between the two factions. Cabinet was plainly unenthusiastic and uncooperative (blithely allowing Christy to walk into trouble without offering help or advice.) In the following months most of the veteran Campbellites had announced their intentions not to seek reelection (unelectable as they were.) From this point onward, their prime concern was to pay off favours, cement new inside deals and retreat from political life in good order. As minister (of everything) Rich Coleman’s failure to bully Surrey into approving his casino shows, this phase is almost over; the “push-back” has begun because the BC Liberals won’t be around long enough to punish civic politicians nor government bureaucrats for disobedience.

    In a sense this process is gradual but the Campbellites, needing every document shredding minute they can get, won’t toss Christy the keys to the pillaged palace until the last moment. By that time she will have to turn them over to somebody else.

    Reasons why policy is so wonky in BC: Christy never did have the levers of power and can’t present cogent governance without them; because of flawed, neo-right ideology, the province is a fiscal and economic mess, severely restricting the administration’s ability to act; Christy shut down the legislature last fall and so it remains; the government is doomed but will spend in inordinate amount of public time and money on attack adds, as extreme as desperate, instead of running the province.

    For the next 15 weeks BC will have virtually no government (election May 14.)

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