You like me! You really like me!
My latest 24 Hours column discusses the recent speculation on who might not replace Gordon Campbell...
On Sunday afternoon all the tweets began to go out about Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts announcing her intentions regarding the BC Liberal leadership. The cameras were on Watts right at the top of the dinner hour news, triggering a day’s worth of headlines.
No surprise to most of us, Surrey’s uncommonly popular mayor was not interested in the job of running the Province. Watts’ young family and her commitment to reforming Surrey, she says, were not worth the sacrifice of working in Victoria.
On this, her reasons are perfectly reasonable.
But it was a third reason trotted out that made many eyes roll. Watts says that politics is getting too personal, and she cites comments by VANOC CEO John Furlong, and former Minister of Finance Carole Taylor on the same theme.
In effect they all have said that they don’t like the rough and tumble of provincial politics, and want everyone to be respectful and civil (especially when it comes to them). Furthermore, they argue that some of that negativity comes from “the bloggers,” as though the Internet has let some dark genie out of the bottle.
It’s time for a reality check for Watts, Furlong and Taylor. They all may be competent leaders in their own right, but politics isn’t the Oscars and being Premier isn’t a weepy Sally Field performance saying, “You like me, you really like me!”
By all appearances none of these folks are prepared for the inevitable grumpiness of the voting public. The fact is when you get elected there are going to be a whole bunch of people that dislike what you stand for.
This ain’t a communist dictatorship where our leaders get 99% approval ratings. Our politics here out on the left coast are deeply divided, and always have been going back as far as Confederation.
Ms. Watts set out to reduce the rancor in Surrey politics, and she has apparently succeeded in this. If she made this one of her goals provincially, she might have some support for it. Remember though that Campbell tried to do the same with poor results.
Furlong has never appeared to be a consensus building politician-in-waiting. VANOC was never a transparent institution, and it’s questionable of John would have welcomed the scrutiny of public life even if he did have the respect of the BC Liberal caucus.
Ms. Taylor is far too successful in her private life to have really considered running for B.C.’s top job. Regardless if she succeeded in charming every single reporter in the Legislature, she would still have to face the court of public opinion, which might be less impressed by her Haute Couture image.
Is politics nastier today than in the past? Not by a long shot. History proves that public discourse is far more civil today than decades ago.
Thank the blogs and the media for providing an outlet for the public’s dissatisfaction. And let’s be grateful that we duke it out in city council chambers and not on a battlefield.
- post by Mike