Saving Christy Clark

I was talking politics with a friend the other day.  Surprise.  In fact we were talking about Christy Clark.  Bigger surprise.

We were discussing Clark’s puzzling seismic shifts in rhetoric when he said to me, “nobody can tell what she stands for.”   And I said that I think its very clear what she stands for.  “What Christy Clark cares about is Christy Clark,” I said.  “End of story”.

He agreed.

And that’s where I disagree with Gary Mason.

Writing in Saturday’s Globe Mason says Clark has governed the last year with “no grand plan for what she wanted to achieve.”  Instead of working on her plan she’s spent the year playing politics.

So far so good.  He’s absolutely right.  There is no plan, no group of ideas and policies that reflect her political beliefs and her analysis of what BC needs.  She has offered nothing but words and campaigns all aimed at securing electoral success.

But then Mason veers off course.  The rest of his column reads like a doting grandfather providing wise advice to his wayward granddaughter.  Except the granddaughter is sitting on death row, covered in mutant tattoos with a sneer on her face and a smuggled knife in her hand.

“Try to do better, dear” he says as she prepares to take another hostage in an insane attempt to bust out of maximum security.  It’s the third attempt this week.

It’s pathetic.

Case in point is Mason’s head in the sand analysis of Clark’s problems with the electorate.  “It’s not because the public has a long list of reasons to dislike the Premier,” Mason writes with no idea of why the public dislikes Clark, “it’s because they don’t have a long list of reasons to like her”.

I love reading readers comments and this bit of absolution provoked lots of long lists of reasons the public has to dislike the Premier.

They all begin with the awful about face that was Clark’s pro HST campaign, a campaign that encapsulates everything that’s wrong with her government.  It started with a lie:  The campaign would just provide information.  It piled lie upon lie: It would be fair.  Both sides would be funded equally.

And the campaign ended with scare tactics.  The economy will die.  You’ll all rot in a PST hell if you vote to get rid of the HST.

And then there was the final lie.  It’ll take two years to undo.

Through the whole misconceived campaign the government proceeded to dump millions of scarce dollars into a round the clock defense of a discredited symbol of BC Liberal arrogance and lies.

The government’s HST campaign was the beginning of Clark’s fall and Mason doesn’t even bother to brush it aside.

The real problem that Mason doesn’t want to face is that Clark embraced Campbell’s policies while ditching his rhetoric.  And she did it badly.  She’s not even as competent as Campbell.

Mason’s view is that to turn this around Clark has to roll out her own program.  The BC Liberals only hope he claims “is by developing a new political manifesto that is substantive, innovative and broadly appealing.”

This is Mason telling the judge that the delinquent in front of him is “a good girl in her heart, just give her one more chance.”  And he fails to mention it’s at least her third try.

There’s nothing to suggest that any of it is true.  Dig below the talking points of the day and the most cogent felt thing Clark ever says is “we can’t afford the NDP.”  That’s it.  There is no plan except “I want to be in charge.”

The only MO that makes sense for Clark is “elect me so I can be in power.”

Here’s what usually happens when governments reach this point.  You don’t hold their hand and plead with them to develop a new plan.

You vote them out.  You send them to purgatory where, if they are to survive, they start to rediscover what they are all about, what they did wrong, and what values and ideas they stand for.

Then they find a leader who embodies those values and ideas.

In the BC Liberals’ case it won’t be Christy Clark.  And once they’ve done this hard work on their own time, they develop a plan.  If it’s decent and makes amends for their previous errors they might get elected.

In other words, the BC Liberals need to steal a page from the NDP’s playbook

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8 Responses to Saving Christy Clark

  1. Paul Willcocks says:

    My reading list in Copan Ruinas is pretty random, governed by what turns up in English at the two book exchanges, which is not much since there are few tourists. But I’ve been delighted by The Children by David Halberstam and yesterday was struck by this passage on Marion Barry:
    “His agenda was always about himself and always in the most immediate sense: He did by instinct that which most immediately served his purpose on a given day. That was why he called himself a situationist. There was no long-term view of politics, just what was the best tactical move at the moment.”
    Rightly or not, it did bring Clark to mind.

  2. Rod Smelser says:

    “Here’s what usually happens when governments reach this point. You don’t hold their hand and plead with them to develop a new plan.”

    I agree that’s the normal process, but it applies to the normal situation where one political party forms the government. In BC coalition wonderland, those normal procedures don’t apply. Observers who are sympathetic to the coalition’s basic need to be in power will keep recommending new tacks till the last moment and beyond. They will still be there coaching them once they’re in opposition, and persuading the public that the remedy of lost power has gone on long enough.

  3. Nicole says:

    I’d love to see another term for the Liberals. KEEP BC STRONG!!

  4. Scotty on Denman says:

    Unforeseen events have the potential to screw up the most well worked out strategy. Nobody foresaw these last few crazy years way back during the 2009 BC election. Campbell had to have known he’d plotted a very unpopular course with regard to the HST lie but he obviously presumed he could weather it. After all, the BC Rail scandal did look through years of doldrums to have been put to bed, the HST tempest would benefit from the same steady-as-she-goes strategy. Campbell was plainly surprised by the negative response to the HST lie. Having failed to foresee the multiplication, rather than the simple addition of the two fiascos, he then made the mistake of going all tactical by offering a ridiculously insincere personal income tax cut. And soon the question that hangs like a sword of Damocles (“if an election were held today…”) looked about to drop. Campbell’s reign was done from that point.

    What followed was some of the most fascinating political tumult one could find anywhere, in short order the successful Anti-HST petition, the not-so-successful Recall campaigns and the NDP’s caucus rebellion in the frothy wake, a storm-tossed ship navigated by immediate tactics, its compass, for the moment, useless. If an election were to have been called then, nobody would have been able to predict the outcome other than to observe that purely tactical situations are where mistakes get made.

    Christy Clark’s ambition to lead is well known; her strategy was to wait out Campbell’s reign. She, like everybody else, could not have foreseen how the string of events would suddenly present her with the opportunity she’d sketched out for herself in some distant day, perhaps four years hence. So she had to jump in early and for that reason she could be excused for being unprepared in the strategy department, if one were charitably inclined.

    And so it was she won, something the disgraced Campbellites might have foreseen. For this brief, shining moment, her poll numbers were good, the Opposition was in disarray and if an election had been called she might have done well. But once again tactics, this time in service of the disgraced ones, tripped Christy up, her embarrassingly narrow by-election win initiated an accelerating erosion of popularity as the seas started to calm. This, the rise of the Conservatives, the mending of the NDP family feud and eventual selection of Adrian Dix as leader were all predictable; so, too, the by-election losses. If an election were called today, the NDP would win handily, even without vote-splitting on the right. In retrospect, Christy would have done better if she’d called that early election, even if she’d become leader of the Opposition. Now she seems doomed. Surely she did not envision this.

    But unforeseen events await: Many predict Christy’s ouster but the details are illusive, so much being privy to culprits. For now, we have the by-election results; by November next, no resignations will precipitate more and Christy appears willing to whether more storms should they come. And they likely will in the form of floor-crossing . It still looks like if (to modify) an election were called between now and next May, the NDP will win, but surely British Columbians, of all people, recognize all it takes is a mistaken response to the unforeseen event. So far, this is all we ever got from Christy Clark.

  5. RossK says:

    All good points Ian.

    Me, I’m still waiting for the, you know, evidence to back Grandpa’s statement that…

    “….Ms. Clark is a liberal to her core…”

    Situational or otherwise.


  6. I remember scanning the Globe that day & saw Gary’s headline and knew right away that it was not worth reading for the simple reason you pointed out “What Christy Clark cares about is Christy Clark,” I said. “End of story”.
    There’s no doubt this lady is way over her head and totally unfit to lead the Province let alone a political party. The sad part is that a lot of political groupies are earning big wages as supporters and the Province is falling behind. I’m not sure what it will take to change our political situation but I do know we can’t afford to wait. I only wish the taxpayers would say enough is enough & storm the legislature to demand she step down.

    Guy in Victoria

  7. Brandon40 says:

    I can see why you caledl this article ‘Saving Christy Clark’, but why should anyone, including Gary?

    Let us think now, Gary Mason works for what newspaper?? Surprise, surprise that he would point out a little of Clark’s disastrous term so far, then the rest of his article ‘veers off course, like the doting grandfather’ – ha – nice try – ‘try to do better dear’ – give me a break – we agree that it’s pathetic, maybe he means – either you need to pull up your socks or we’ll see an end to the corporate friendly/big business puppets in the BC gov’t, just like the paper I work for on a federal basis and we may see an NDP majority. Perhaps a little of it is Gary’s ignorance of the entire issue, but he doesn’t completely have his head in the sand – I’d say he knows what he’s doing – looks like he’s trying to help either she or the BC Liberals – but I’d say the reader comments are more on reality.

    Look, Clark has had and continues to have enormous screw ups, no denying it — but if I see another blog that states along the lines of “even Campbell looks better than Clark at this point” – excuse me – practically everything that is a disaster in this province now was started under G. Campbell – including the HST, smart meters, anti-union you name it, selling off this, that and the other. How soon our memories fade!

    I agree with you, with what the present government has done, you don’t help them develop a new plan, you vote them out. I believe they should be voted out. And you don’t attempt to come up with some new stupid name for the party and keep most of the same idiots we’ve had all along!!! That’s all window dressing – and who would be so dumb? Shhh** – OMG – there are some out there..

  8. John says:

    Brandon40 is right on.

    And I think there are more than just a few folk who think that this train wreck is possibly salvageable before next spring.


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