BC leadership races add tension to civic political scene

Post by Daniel Fontaine in


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Politics in BC is making for strange bedfellows right about now

In what is the wacky world of BC coalition politics, even the slightest shift in the tectonic plates can result in massive tremors miles from the epicentre. That's because at the provincial and municipal level, politics is never quite as we see it.

For example, if you are a card carrying Federal Conservative you may actually vote for the ruling BC Liberal party. For the last decade or so, the BC Liberals have become a coalition of the non-NDP forces in the province who are trying to keep the "socialists" out of power in Victoria.

It's also not uncommon for a Federal Liberal to vote NDP provincially, rather than for the BC Liberals. Once again, that has to do with how "far right" the BC Liberals are perceived to be by some Federal Liberals. On any given day when it comes to provincial politics, it can often be a challenge to keep your eye on the bouncing ball.

In relation to civic politics in Vancouver, it is no less complicated. With the leadership races well underway for both the NDP and BC Liberals, we're now starting to see some interesting dynamics develop.

In the case of Mayor Gregor Robertson and his Vision Vancouver party, some of their senior operatives are working in different camps battling it out against each other. This is despite the fact Mayor Gregor has quietly pleaded with his caucus to keep their heads low and not get too involved in any of the races.

Robertson has already indicated he won't be endorsing any of the NDP candidates. Probably a smart move given that Gregor got in trouble for his last minute endorsement of Jenn McGinn, the NDP candidate who succeeded him in Vancouver Fairview. I should also note that Robertson got in hot water with his own party for openly promoting a Gordon Campbell three-peat.

It's interesting to watch people like NDP stalwart Marcella Munro who is a behind-the-scenes person with Vision Vancouver. She's come out and said she's supporting the NDP's Mike Farnworth as party leader. Meanwhile civic politicos like Vision councillor Kerry Jang, Raymond Louie and Geoff Meggs have been very open about their support for Adrian Dix.

To add even more confusion to the situation, a number of key Vision Vancouver operatives like former NPA board member and Federal Liberal Greg Wilson are endorsing and working on BC Liberal Christy Clark's campaign. It's also worth noting that Vision Vancouver founder, former COPE mayor and now Liberal Senator Larry Campbell is endorsing the BC Liberal's small "c" conservative Kevin Falcon. Are you following all of this? There's more.

It's not just Vision Vancouver that have to deal with their supporters battling it out in different camps. The NPA is in a similar position. Marcella Munro's business colleague and Federal Liberal/NPA senior campaign worker Bruce Young is working for Kevin Falcon alongside Doug Leung (nephew of former Liberal MP Sophia Leung).

Norman Stowe, former NPA mayoral candidate Jennifer Clark's communications guy, is playing a senior role in the Falcon campaign. Meanwhile, former NPA president Michael Davis as well as Anna Lilly, former Director of Communications for NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan (the guy who ran against Christy Clark for the NPA nomination) are actively working for Christy Clark. As far as I can tell, no NPA supporters are actively working on NDP leadership campaigns. If there is anyone, please let me know.

I recently attended a Christy Clark function whereby former CTV news anchor Pamela Martin and condo king Bob Rennie announced their endorsements. The room was filled with Vision/NPA apparatchiks whom at the municipal scene are at each other throats. It likely makes for interesting dynamics and discussion in the Clark war room.

While I'm at it, did I mention that Vision Vancouver operative and NDP backroom guy Bill Tieleman is working arm-in-arm with former Socred Premier Bill Vander Zalm and former BC Conservative leader Chris Delaney to unseat BC Liberal Ida Chong? This couldn't get any stranger as the lines of who support whom are getting really fuzzy. Needless to say, BC politics is making for strange bedfellows right about now.

So its obvious Vision Vancouver campaign workers and politicians are being pulled in several different directions with some of them supporting both NDP and BC Liberal candidates. Meanwhile, most NPA supporters appear to be splitting their allegiances between Clark, Falcon and Abbott. What's unclear at the moment is if any of this battling at the provincial front will leave behind any political hangovers once the new leaders have been selected. My guess is it likely will.

As they say, it's just another day of wacky coalition politics in Beautiful British Columbia!

- Post by Daniel


What you will find is that most people will ultimately back the candidate they think can win regardless of who it is. Fearing the incompetents from the other side get in and ruin the economy like they have historically done in the past.

For example left leaning BC Libs would support Falcon if they think he could win and right leaning BC Libs would support Clark if they thought she could win. So the candidate's job is to convince the party faithful they are the ones who are electable.

Right now the one with the best argument is Clark whose polling numbers are rumored to be be substantially more than the rest of the BC Libs when polled in a race with NDP hopefuls.

BC Provincial Politics was a topic of discussion at the Urban Development Institute forecast luncheon last week, attended by just over 1000 people. Two of the three panelists wore Kevin Falcon buttons, and the third, Neil Chrystal of Polygon made it clear he too was very supportive of the Liberals...all three noted that what kept them awake at night was the possibility of an NDP victory in a forthcoming election.

What was also interesting for me was that during a one hour discussion, there was absolutely no mention of the impact of municipal politics on the development scene, other than from Ryan Beedie who is worried about municipalities wanting to become developers themselves!

I suspect things will be different come the fall!

The only way Christie Clark will win the next Provincial election is if Adrian Dix is the leader of the NDP. That way the NDP might agree not to mention "BC Rail" if the Liberals don't mention "The Memo".

Geez...look at the first few paragraphs of this post. If you believe in party x federally you'll probably vote party y provincially but if you're party z provincially you might vote party q federally etc....

Notice how no individuals were mentioned? What ever happened to voting for the best person? It's almost irrelevant what the individual has to say now, it's all a strategy to get party x in. There has got to be a better way.

Wow, I finally agree with something boohoo says. Shocking. I also don't like the whole idea of party loyalty at the expense of individual integrity. Clearly we're in the vast minority. Without being able to quote a source, I've heard anecdotally that 93% of people vote along party lines. If that is a true figure, I think it's a shame.

The party to win should be the party that organizes the most people to win seats. It now seems more important to jam a person in who won't lose the seat, rather than actually do something to win it.

A sad state of affairs we have here. No wonder more and more voters are feeling disconnected from their political leaders.

Glad someone is keeping track of this. In addition to what @boohoo and @Paul have said, I am glad there are a lot of cross party connections in BC politics. Helps stimulate new ideas and to spark things up. The worst that could happen is a highly polarized political community where people only listen to those they already agree with or disparge ideas because of where they come from. One of the best dialogs I heard last year was between Preston Manning and David Suzuki.

@Paul - where did the 93% number come from? Sounds high for me. It is not even that high in the US, where many people declare themselves as Democrats, Republicans or Independents on voter rolls. One of the things that surprized me when I lived in the US was how open people are about what political party they are members of.

Again, the figure is anecdotal... And I should clarify, it's not that people choose one or the other party and stick with it for life.

What I mean is people make up their minds based on what the party is doing, with total disregard for the local candidate. They may switch between parties from election to election, but they make up their mind only based on what they see coming from the party as a whole.

That type of voting discourages politicians from even TRYING to get out and meet people. And I don't blame them. Why waste their time door-knocking if it won't change votes.

Not that I don't think the party also needs to be scrutinized by the electorate, but it should just be one of the many factors that are weighed when marking your X.

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