Christy Clark has a long road to unity

Unity was the theme as Mike de Jong

VANCOUVER – Christy Clark spoke passionately about teamwork, unity and listening in the moments after winning the B.C. Liberal leadership, with 48 per cent of voting members arrayed against her to the end.“Our government will be stronger because of the dialogue we all started with British Columbians, and we are going to build on that, together,” Clark told a packed convention hall. “We are going to shape the future of B.C., together. We are going to forge a bigger, stronger coalition, together.”A few minutes later, in the middle of the crowded room, an argument between two men turned into a shoving match that escalated until two others jumped in and separated them.Outside the convention hall, Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen was clarifying to reporters that he had not said he was quitting the caucus if Clark defeated his choice, George Abbott. Despite his earlier musings about considering his options in a Clark-led caucus, van Dongen was suddenly impressed with the desire of his colleagues to work together and was keen to do the same.Van Dongen wasn’t the only one shocked at seeing Abbott, the Shuswap MLA and champion of rural B.C., finish third. Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett had figured the weighted voting system would give Abbott a good shot at bringing his team of mainly Campbell outsiders into the inner circle. Bennett said he felt “pretty good, for a loser,” and showed a brave smile. His choice is not to leave the caucus, but to come back in, if he is invited.The next morning, former Reform and Conservative MP Randy White spoke about the Clark win on CFAX radio in Victoria. He’s working to professionalize a moribund B.C. Conservative Party, and he said he watched a surge of people joining that party as soon as Clark’s narrow victory was known.The B.C. Conservatives will announce new supporters shortly, White said, and people will be surprised. They were not counting on Bennett to be one of those, although White said Bennett told him a month ago he would sign up if Clark won the B.C. Liberal leadership.White is convinced that Clark’s victory is a “defining moment” for B.C. politics. No longer will the B.C. Liberals be able to tell voters, it’s us or the NDP.“We’re now acknowledging, and the Liberals are acknowledging that they are a Liberal party,” White said.During the campaign, Clark blundered about on the harmonized sales tax, the timing of the next election and the government’s ability to cap the rapid growth of health-care spending. She’s fond of saying she spent the last four years listening to the people as a radio host. Apparently that’s long enough to start believing the bumper-sticker solutions that are so often the fodder of talk radio.There were more hints of this in her victory speech. Clark’s top two priorities are “job creation and fighting poverty.” She’s just won the leadership of a party that has been saying for 15 years that government doesn’t create jobs. And the NDP continues its own earnest but mainly fanciful debate about how poverty can be legislated away by government intervention, while trumpeting distorted statistics about the plight of B.C. children.If Clark wants to reach out to conservative-minded voters, she might start by acknowledging that the province is currently running an operating deficit of close to $1 billion, with another year in the red still to come. But so far it looks as if she will tack to the left, and risk making the B.C. Conservatives’ day.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

Just Posted

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Former welfare clients still owed money, B.C. Ombudsperson says

Investigation found 2,600 people docked illegally for earning income

Prince George could get province’s second BC Cannabis Store

The first brick-and-mortar government retail location opened in Kamloops on Oct. 17

B.C. chowdery caught up in ‘rat-in-soup’ scandal to close

Crab Park Chowdery will be shutting down Jan. 20

Teen vaping is an epidemic: US government

E-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers, outpacing cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana

Vancouver councillors unanimously approve motion declaring climate emergency

Vancouver joins cities like Los Angeles and London

Caribou herd disappears from Kootenays after last cow relocated

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Body of Canadian miner found after African kidnapping

Kirk Woodman’s body was discovered 100 kilometres from the site where he worked for Progress Mineral Mining Company in Burkina Faso

Most Read