The 2012 spring session of the legislature began, ironically, on Saint Valentine’s Day. You could not feel the love.
That’s due in part because Premier Christy Clark was wooing her B.C. family one day earlier on CKNW’s Bill Good Show in what her office characterized as an address “in place of a formal throne speech.”
How novel, using a radio talk show microphone to deliver a B.C. micro-throne. The cries of outrage were instantaneous. It is customary to open the spring session with a formal throne speech crafted by the premier’s spin doctors and delivered by a somnolescent lieutenant governor.
This year is different because a throne speech was delivered last fall and the Liberal brain trust opted not to duplicate the effort so soon. Regardless, it was stupid in the extreme to suggest that the premier’s appearance Monday morning on her old radio station opposite her former airwaves crony would satisfy those nursing expectations of accountability in the legislature.
Bill Good was ticked. He’s often accused of being soft on Christy. He even took a round out of Clark’s communications minion Rebecca Scott (a former Bill Good Show producer) for her “unfortunate” suggestion that the premier’s appearance was in lieu of a formal engagement in the legislature.
Clark’s office backed down hastily, but the fact of the matter is that she saw the CKNW gig as a golden opportunity to perch on friendly turf and reach a broad, captive audience of shut-ins; an opportunity to deliver her feel good message about jobs and families free of NDP scrutiny and media cynicism.
And that is exactly what she got — an hour and a half of thoughtful, collegial banter during which the toughest commentary on the premier’s first 11 months in office came from one of CKNW’s advertisers, IntegrityBC, a non-partisan advocacy group that champions accountability in B.C. politics.
IntegrityBC asked the question that has been on the lips of free enterprisers who have been abandoning the Liberal party in droves: “what good is a new premier if it turns out to be politics as usual?”
For Clark, politics as usual resembles the movie Groundhog Day in which we, the audience, are asked to endure the politics of repetition.
In a 10-minute “safe harbour” advertorial ahead of Good’s soft lobs, the premier trotted out the tiresome refrain about not being able to afford a return to the 1990s when the NDP was “shovelling your money off the back of the truck.” Does she have any idea how tedious that has become more than a decade down the road?
However, she danced the dance of denial when her own government’s disastrous showing in the polls was mentioned. Current public opinion assessments of the Liberals’ performance just don’t count a year and a half ahead of an election, she said. Think of this as “an exhibition hockey game,” she told Good. The score simply does not count.
Clark the waffler emerged when a caller pointed out the inherent unfairness of highway tolls on only new construction such as the Port Mann Bridge. Clark quickly blamed the previous government for that policy, but refused to “tinker” with the status quo.
I’m sure the premier left Bill Good’s studio thinking she’d just knocked one out of the ballpark. Pity it was just an exhibition game. M