Christy Clark has a long road to unity

Unity was the theme as Mike de Jong

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

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre estimates that less than five per cent of mass-marketing fraud is ever reported.
Tips to avoid scams targeting Vancouver Island seniors

In most cases, fraudsters impersonate an individual, business or agency seniors recognize and trust

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read