Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals narrowly survived on a vote to approve second reading of the provincial budget on Tuesday (March 5), which merely means nobody — not the Liberals, not the NDP nor anyone else — wants an early election. We don’t, however, expect them to survive the real confidence vote of the electorate on May 14.
That would probably be true even without the “ethnic vote memo” affair that has hit the media, with the opposition New Democrats leading the jeers, in the past two weeks. Even before the poo hit the fan on that one, Clark’s party was lagging behind Adrian Dix’s NDP by something like 16 percentage points.
There’s no question that this most recent scandal has had an element of “political theatre,” as Postmedia News columnist Andrew Coyne opined on Monday (March 4). The timing of the release by Clark’s political foes of the 17-page memo that led to the media firestorm, 10 weeks before an election, certainly was no accident.
The actions suggested as ways for the Liberals to win the “ethnic” vote in B.C. may, as Coyne states, be “as common as daisies” for political operatives, “hardly worth the smelling-salts routine” being acted out by the NDP. Politicians and their supporters concoct these sorts of strategies all the time — just not on the taxpayers’ dime. On that front, it’s certainly the principle that matters most, not the amount — which doesn’t appear to be significant. The (feigned?) outrage being voiced by the opposition does appear to be a bit over the top. But what more would we expect at such a politically charged moment in our history?
Perhaps more to the point, the resignation of Clark’s deputy chief of staff and Minister of Multiculturalism (who doesn’t appear to have had any involvement in the matter whatsoever) is just another sign of the B.C. Liberals’ flagging fortunes after 12 years in power. On second thought, “flagging” is too weak a word. “Moribund” comes to mind as more appropriate. How low can the Liberals go? At this point we’d say even the resignation of the unelected premier and the naming of a fresh-faced newcomer to stand for election wouldn’t save them — making the “ethnic vote memo” the final nail in the current B.C. Grits’ political coffin.
— David Burke