Tuesday, March 05, 2013

If only Christy Clark had left sooner ...

Today's call by Gordon Campbell's former Chief of Staff Martyn Brown for Christy Clark to resign in order for the Liberals to rebuild raises an interesting question: how much difference could it make?

If Christy had left last year, George Abbott or Kevin Falcon would have made the upcoming election more competitive--but they had been fully committed to the HST, among other things in their closets full of baggage.

Clark had one big advantage--having been out of office during the formulation and implementation of the HST, she was better positioned to  have boldly braved the political and fiscal difficulties of jettisoning the HST altogether.

Had she done that, Bill Tieleman and Bill Vander Zalm would have had nothing to campaign about. Shop keepers would have been spared the ennervation, as would have their customers (you).  We would all view the Liberals differently--much as a bored spouse would,  instead of as an angry one itching for a divorce.

And SHE could have taken credit for getting rid of it--she could plausibly have claimed to have been the real change. Instead, she toyed with the idea of calling a snap election, which was legally and politically difficult. And then she starting modifying and fiddling with the HST, while her popularity plummeted and a snap election was no longer viable.

And she has looked weak and vacillating ever since. Her one big opportunity to turn things around was exhausted, and none of her little splashes could even hope to turn the tide.

As recently as last fall, she could have postponed the election, possibly under the cover of accepting  democratic reforms proposed by independent MLAs Bob Simpson, Vicki Huntington,and John Van Dongen.  And she could have used that time for big policy renewal, including name change and even merger talks with Conservatives (although she is too much of a federal liberal to seriously consider that).

On this latter point, someone else really would be better--Abbott, Falcon, or even former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan or prominent lawyer Andrew Wilkinson.

But it is way too late to avoid an NDP government if an election is held in May, as it is scheduled to do by legislation. Way, way too late.

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