When Christy Clark decided to abandon her cushy gig as a radio talk show diva and re-enter politics, she did so with her instincts intact.
She knew B.C. needed a radical departure from the detached, autocratic, arbitrary decade of Gordon Campbell. She sought to personalize her forthcoming agenda with a “Families First” strategy underpinned by a “Canada Starts Here” jobs creation vision. It should have worked wonders.
However, she failed to fully appreciate that a debilitating culture of political cronyism had taken root in the legislature, that demoralization was epidemic in the public service, that voters were angry to their core and thirsting for revenge and that she had almost no fiscal wiggle room to fund her miracle of inclusion.
As 2011 winds down, I sense that Premier Clark feels very alone at the top. Her Liberal colleagues are scrambling for safety as the NDP tsunami gathers strength and her extended “family” is first and foremost up in arms.
Little wonder her year-end media interviews were filled with: “I don’t regret doing it, that’s for sure … I don’t regret it because I still believe in the reasons I did it … So I don’t regret it at all because we’ve still got all those things to continue to do.”
For Clark, 2011 has been a year of living dangerously aggravated by a profound disconnect between the governors and the governed. Nothing illustrates this better than the HST uprising.
In July, I was labouring under the silly notion that much of the public fury over Campbell’s HST double cross had dissipated. In that faint hope, the Liberals invested millions in a “stickman” TV campaign to encourage voters to consider the “facts.” As it turned out, punishing the Liberals was a stronger motivation for axing the tax.
One of the most insulting manifestations of this disconnect came shortly after the HST vote when our government’s appointed cronies decided to bestow the Order of B.C. (OBC) on Campbell as he was packing his bags to begin his twinkie-waving diplomatic gig in London, England.
Let’s not mince words … he was nothing more than a failed politician whose international persona was a Hawaii jailhouse mug shot and whose last years in office were characterized by an arrogant belief that the obligation to consult was a fetter to be borne by lesser political mortals.
While Premier Clark cannot be directly blamed for Campbell’s HST or OBC, the two have reinforced the widely held belief that she is leading a political party totally out of touch with the people it serves, a party obliged solely to the gratification of its own.
Worse still, her “Families First” and “Canada Starts Here” initiatives have done little to check the spiral of cynicism that is gathering momentum.
Families First was initially undermined by the premier’s disastrous decision to appoint her sole caucus supporter Harry Bloy as the intellectually-challenged Minister of Social Development. On Bloy’s watch, Community Living BC, guardian of the developmentally disabled, became mired in controversy over its failed stewardship.
And, Canada Starts Here has stalled because it is largely unfunded and its benchmarks — like eight new mines by 2015 — are the stuff of pixie dust.
Putting 2011 behind her, Premier Clark may insist she has no regrets, but I fear her regrettable state of denial will catch up with her in 2012. M