If ever a premier needed to get out of Christyville for two weeks of overseas flag waving, it is Ms. Clark.
On Friday, the premier, a couple of cabinet ministers and 250 upbeat economic cheerleaders will jump on the team bus for 14 days of B.C. boosting in China and India. The lucky 250 come from more than 120 companies and organizations representing mining, energy, forestry, seafood, transportation and education.
Left behind in the dust are the festering memories of the troubling month of October, a month in which the fragility of Clark’s Families First agenda became more apparent, a month in which the premier was reminded that Liberal loyalty is a fickle phenomena.
Where to start? How about the first public displays of resentment from inside Clark’s caucus.
Stalwart Liberal MLA Randy Hawes, a team player rarely given to offside outbursts, got the ball rolling in a most public manner in the legislature with an attack on his own government for botching the care for the developmentally disabled.
The MLA for Abbotsford-Mission expressed profound concern that developmentally disabled adults are being moved out of group homes where they have lived for decades.
“In the more than 10 years that I’ve been in this legislature, there’s no issue that’s caused me more loss of sleep or more concern for those most valuable people,” he said.
Hawes dismissed claims by Community Living BC (CLBC) that none of the disabled are being moved out of group homes into residential accommodation against their will.
Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen joined in, calling the situation “an obvious failure” that he and Hawes had not been able to reconcile in the privacy of caucus. “I’m not going to detail the efforts I made to get in front of my own government, but I can assure you we made lots of efforts,” he told reporters.
Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg also voiced concern, saying CLBC actions have hit at society’s core values in a manner that made him uncomfortable. He bristled at the way upset parents were forced to stand by powerless as their developmentally disabled adult children were shunted around.
Newly appointed Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux, who has stepped into the breach after her predecessor Harry Bloy was fired, lamely commented that CLBC is going through a period of change.
The fact that three MLAs were prepared to attack their government in such a public way had to be acutely embarrassing for Premier Clark who would have us believe she has a solid team watching her back, not stabbing it.
MLAs Hawes, van Dongen and Hogg are veterans, the bedrock of caucus. If they are upset enough to seek an audience outside the sanctity of caucus then you know there is trouble in Christyville.
It also highlights the fact that she made a very poor administrative decision when she originally opted to give Harry Bloy the sensitive Social Development portfolio as a reward for being the only MLA to support her leadership bid. Everyone in caucus knew Bloy was not cabinet material, that he would be a slave to his bureaucrats. That had to cause resentment.
Further, it calls into question the political wisdom of building a leadership, a premiership and a government on a Families First foundation. This episode shows how easily that foundation can be eroded by mean and miserly government initiatives that hurt families so profoundly. M