Column: Liberal win requires alternate reality

It’s May 13, 2013 – provincial election day in B.C.
Premier Kevin Falcon vows to hold onto his party’s majority.

It’s May 13, 2013 – provincial election day in B.C.

Premier Kevin Falcon vows to hold onto his party’s majority in the legislature in today’s election.

Falcon is optimismtic despite Adrian Dix (NDP) and John Cummins (Conservative) successfully improving their respective party’s popularity among B.C. voters.

“Since becoming premier I have listened to the people of this province, I have learned from the people of this province, and I have led this province decisively,” Falcon says on election day 2013, reflecting back on his two years in charge.

Way back in February 2011, Falcon ultimately beat radio talk-show host Christy Clark (as well as MLAs George Abbott and Mike de Jong) to take over the job vacated by outgoing premier Gordon Campbell.

Falcon’s achievements as premier have been highlighted by – wait a second, this doesn’t sound right.

It’s a shame life doesn’t give us the opportunity to explore alternate timelines – a remedial chaos theory, if you will – where we can see how different life would be if one thing was different, ie. if Christy Clark wasn’t chosen premier.

How well would Premier Falcon, or Premier Abbott, or Premier de Jong, be showing in the polls? Would Liberal MLAs Barry Penner and Iain Black have quit politics entirely, making way for the NDP to earn two huge by-election wins in historically Liberal ridings? Would any Liberal MLAs have defected to the “vote-splitting” Conservative Party of B.C.? We’ll never know.

What we can surmise from reality, however, is that Clark’s chances of being named premier-elect on May 13, 2013 are getting slim. For the last few months, opinion polls have gradually shown Dix, the NDP leader, overtaking Premier Clark as the public’s preferred leader of our province. But his lead is not yet insurmountable.

Polls and pundits don’t always paint a true picture of the political landscape, but this Liberal-run term in the legislature has been dominated by some pretty divisive issues – namely the HST.

And yes, British Columbians got the tax referendum they demanded, and they stuck it to the Liberals by voting to scrap the tax. But next May 13 will be the day, I predict, an even louder message will be sent.

Someone who isn’t Christy Clark will be crowned premier in 2013. As it stands right now, Adrian Dix looks like he’ll be that person – though the Liberals still have an out.

Despite card-carrying Liberals preferring Clark to any of her leadership adversaries back at that February 2011 convention, there was only one sitting politician (Burquitlam MLA Harry Bloy) who backed her bid.

I wonder if the other 40 some-odd Liberal MLAs could predict her election as leader wasn’t what the party would need to reverse its fortunes.

Either way, those 40-plus MLAs were right to not initially back Clark. (If only Bloy wasn’t so darn influential among party members!)

For the sake of politicking, the position the Liberals are in now leaves them few options: keep their leader, lose seats and the election in 2013 (and put the blame for that loss on anyone who votes Conservative); or ditch their leader and start anew.

For appearance’ sake, I’d suggest the latter.

If the Liberals take cues from genuine public opinion, they’ll know Clark does not now have the support to win in 2013. Is waiting it out another 12 months to see if that changes worth losing an election? I don’t think so.

If Clark wants her party to succeed after her time as premier is up, she should take her cues from what Kevin Falcon said when he launched his leadership campaign: “Listen to people. Learn from them. … And lead decisively.”

If you’re not genuinely working by all three of those rules – for the sake of your province, for the sake of your party – it’s time to reflect on the opportunities lost by not living in some alternate timeline where you aren’t premier.

Kyle Slavin is a reporter with the Saanich News.

kslavin@saanichnews.com