Congratulations, premier-designate Christy Clark

Post by Mike Klassen in

32 comments

clark-wins.jpg
Christy Clark takes all the marbles on Saturday – photo: Vancouver Sun

I did not support Christy Clark's candidacy in the BC Liberal leadership campaign, but I will now proudly stand behind the party's new leader. Last night was a revelation for this long time political operative, and I'm still trying to process the thousand snapshots now in my head I took away from last night's event.

The hall in the brand new Vancouver Convention Centre never looked better, as everyone I could think of in our province's media and political sphere was in the room. Smart phones were the star, as many of us took photos and tweeted madly our thoughts and observations to those in the corners of our snow-bound country who couldn't be in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver's media came out in force – lights, cables, cameras, crews and of course the anchors and reporters. Amazingly it was people like my colleague Daniel, myself and so many others, who paced the room snapping photos and sharing conversations on Twitter, who complemented the mainstream media presence. We retweeted their words, and they ours.

Social media was an overpowering factor in this campaign. Christy Clark captured the imagination of so many young people, in part thanks to her anti-bullying campaign launched during her radio career. Young Twitterati propelled Christy into the number seven trending topic for Twitter in Canada yesterday, with none of the other candidates cracking the top ten.

Internet voting was used for the first time in British Columbia on a large scale, and there's no question it had its bumps. Thousands of pin numbers supposedly mailed out a week earlier didn't arrive in mail in time for Saturday's vote. It will be interesting to see how many members get those letters next week, and whether it's the BC Liberal party, the mailing company or even Canada Post itself who will wear some of the blame. Regardless of the gaffe, internet voting is now here to stay and watch for it to come soon to a general election.

Marching around the room trying to get their piece of the spotlight were NDP MLAs and leadership candidates, along with their union boss allies. Of course, they shrugged off the profound energy and excitement which built up around the BC Liberal leadership candidates, claiming that only "real" change happens when you throw out the BC Liberals and replace them with NDPers.

If you were Sue Lambert of the BCTF, Jim Sinclair of the BC Fed, Adrian Dix, or Mike Farnworth, you couldn't be a happy camper in that room. The NDP's challenge now will be to attract anything remotely close to what happened last night, with their measly 35,000 membership list, long since closed off, and their one-member, one-vote system that ensures that the urban centres, not the entire province, will have a say in who replaces Carol James.

Also roaming the room were federal Conservatives and many other in the party establishment who for the most part backed Kevin Falcon's campaign. It was a close count in the end – 52-percent for Christy Clark over 48-percent for Falcon. Kevin's supporters can take solace in that they ran an excellent campaign, but now like the candidate they supported, they too must return to the fold in order to beat the NDP.

Christy Clark has mapped out some basic directions for herself in the months ahead. She has indicated that she might run in Vancouver-Point Grey, the riding currently occupied by Gordon Campbell. It's a swing riding with some bedrock NDP support left over from the days of the New Left movement. Campbell took the riding by over 2500 votes in 2009, and I expect that Christy Clark could take it by an even wider margin.

Funny to see that many NDP supporters are encouraging Vision Vancouver school board chair Patti Bacchus to run against Clark in Point Grey. Thanks to Clark's massive popularity and impressive political machinery Bacchus would be roadkill of course. But Bacchus will get a lot of encouragement and financial backing from the intransigent BCTF leadership, whose perpetual war footing will get turned up in advance of the expiration of their collective agreement. The only upside for Patti is the profile she'd gain in her bid for a Vision city council seat.

Clark talked about a "families first" agenda. There's not much meat on the bones of that political promise yet, but I think I know where Christy is going on that one. It won't mean just a holiday in February, which is now a certainty. I couldn't help think of how much that 'families first' message resonated within B.C.'s multicultural communities, given the strength her campaign gained from Filipino, Indo-Canadian and Chinese supporters.

Clark has also hinted at a general election before May 2013. While a fall election might seem like an obvious plan, it runs smack into municipal campaigns and a November election for cities. Clark would be wise not to call an election before 2012.

While Clark addressed the crowd during last night's victory speech, she welcomed up on stage her opponents. Clark linked hands with Falcon, Abbott, De Jong and Stilwell in a sign of unity. The first member of the BC Liberal caucus who bounded up on stage after that is the man I suspect will broker the peace between Conservatives and Clark – Rich Coleman. Coleman was planning to run for leader, but decided to let the Tory machinery focus on Falcon.

Having taken one for the team, Coleman will call in his markers and urge everyone to get behind the new leader. Clark will almost immediately be working the phones with Coleman, and the big man will have an important place in her government. As will Mike De Jong, who played the smart money during his campaign and didn't endorse other candidates for number two. The number two picks of De Jong supporters made the difference for Clark over Falcon.

The other concern I've heard about Clark's leadership is the potential for friction with other strong women in her caucus. Clark is a bit of a Type A personality – extroverted and straight-talking. She now has some amazing women in her caucus, and she needs to bond with the other gals fast in order to succeed. I can see Clark asking the boys to leave the room and only meeting with Margaret MacDiarmid, Shirley Bond, Stephanie Cadieux, Moira Stilwell, Ida Chong, Linda Reid, Mary McNeil, Mary Polak and other women in her caucus.

Such a meeting would not only dissipate tensions created during the recent campaign (no caucus members other than Harry Bloy supported Clark's leadership), but it would allow Clark to create a government where women are truly represented.

Another woman important to Clark's political success was Pamela Martin, who ended her media career on a high note last December and jumped on the Clark bandwagon as her most high-profile supporter. Martin will be looking around for a West Vancouver riding to run in soon, and so will, I'm told West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones. The two Pamelas will both be eyeing up West Van ridings, which suggests MLA Ralph Sultan might be looking for new work before the year end.

The HST referendum will now be moved up to June. I think Clark will put a bunch of her political capital into a pro-HST campaign, provided the polls continue to show increasing support for that tax. Some business sectors such as the film industry are benefitting big time from the HST shift (can you say "Tom Cruise"), and Clark has always been an HST backer. Furthermore, Clark can rightly claim that she had nothing to do with the decision to adopt the tax, and remain focused on its advantages for our economy.

Finally, a word about Christy Clark herself. There have been more than a few pundits making comparisons between Clark and Bill Vander Zalm, mainly because of the deja vu surrounding her populist campaign. Both Vander Zalm and Clark were former Ministers of Education, who both ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Vancouver, and who ran against the party's establishment and became Premier.

But the comparisons ends there in my opinion. We know now that Bill Vander Zalm wears a tinfoil hat to prevent the New World Order from reading his brainwaves. Clark may be a populist and nowhere near the policy wonk that Gordon Campbell is, but she's far more pragmatic than her critics suggest.

What I saw last night was someone who knew since she was a kid that she would go on to the job she has now. Her outgoing personality, her sense of justice, her ability to make mistakes and move on, all made her into a natural leader. The reason Christy Clark is now going to lead our province, I think, is because she always knew the job was hers.

I wrote this week that it's harder for women to lead in our country, and that Clark has a chance to prove otherwise. She has a steep hill to climb at the moment, but a lot of people are mobilized behind her to see that she succeeds.

Congratulations, premier-designate Christy Clark. I wish you success and will support your efforts to make British Columbia an even greater place to live, work and grow.

- post by Mike

32 Comments

Interesting comment by Vaughn Palmer lasy night on Global News covering the event:

"I knew Bill Vander Zalm and Christy Clark is no Bill Vander Zalm".

Another interesting tidbit is that Clark won all of the NDP held ridings but also ridings as conservative as Peace River South.

Politician turned Media returned Politician.

You all share the same trait, perhaps your mothers didn't love you enough, thats why you people seeks out the spotlight, garnering attention wherever you can to fill the void.

What a pathetic display. I am ashamed of our Canadian political system run by corrupt cretins and media simpletons.

Well said Jones....

Congratulations to Christy Clark and her team. Looking forward to a coherent set of policies that will set her apart from the old administration. And I hope CityCaucus will continue to push the Provincial Government on urban issues.

I always reply to those who write these kinds of remarks by suggesting that if they know what's best, then get involved in the political system and run for office. Sitting behind an anonymous handle and smoldering isn't going to fix the system.

A reminder to our commenters that we kindly request no coarse language or expressions. Thanks.

Freedom of expression is the first thing on the chopping block with this new liberal agenda I see !

Thank you for your demonstration of this by removing an entire sentence, rather then editing a single word.

You display all the hallmarks I mentioned, in spades, to protect your overwhelming interests.

as a woman and a political junkie I am heartened at last night's results. The names (particularly the woman) that have stepped up support Christie are bright, fair and civilized.

I am hopefully that this marks a new era of issues-not personalities, pragmatics not vote hunting and an overarching sense of civility in governing.

When I listened to the NDP last night I could not help but groan. Same old faces, same old snipes, same old rhetoric. Old news boy!

@ Mike
Oddly enough I didn't even register any offending language when I responded to the comment made by Jones,...now I'm very curious, and must say I agree with Jones on this... you've allowed many inappropriate things to go by, on this blog without moderation....nothing in the comment made by Jones was offensive... IMHO.


There is something very wrong with a system where an unelected individual can be selected by party members to be head of government. That's how it used to work in, for example, 1950s Bulgaria. It would be inconceivable in any other democracy I can think of. Add to this the questions that continue to hang over Ms Clark and the process by which she was 'designated' and this is not, to my mind, in any way a good day for BC.

No doubt the electors of Point Grey, or whatever riding is graced with an unnecessary by-election (remember how you chastised Gregor for that?) are now expected to rubber stamp the choice made for them, but what if they don't?

Mike, the fault for the delayed delivery of the BC Liberal's PINs to the registered members on the Island and Interior has to be with Canada Post. Two weeks ago, I mailed an envelope from Cloverdale with a North Vancouver recipient's address. Delivery took 9 days. Two months ago, I sent an envelope from Cloverdale to an address in Duncan on the Island. Delivery too 16 days. Our once exemplary mail service has degraded to the point where it makes more sense to use a courier if delivery time is important. The strange thing is that nobody at Canada Post seems to care and it is impossible to contact a real person in authority at Canada Post.
For future internet voting, it would be wise to use email for sending PINs.

The NDP seem to sound cocky with Clark winning. I would say she is probably the worst things that could have happened to them.
Clark is a populist and none of the NDP leadership candidates are. The NDP might have to look over their shoulders in their current ridings in the next election.

I am not sure why we even have full postal delivery. It should be scaled back to 2-3 days per week.

very strange comment George

The 52/48 split is a very good result . . a balance between Liberal and Conservative numbers & values.

Christy will have to lead from that middle - if she tries to go to far to her Liberal left she'll have some Cabinet & caucus issues to deal with.

Next up . . picking that Cabinet. Handing out the lolly is the best indicator of her true intentions.

And please let the NDP run Patti Bachus run against C2 in WPG . . . it would like mega whack-a-mole . . so much fun.


Thank you George, a toast to the demise of our freedom of speech !

The Liberals have won at last !

@ Julia:

Ms. Clark's win definitely put a smile on my face!

As for Jim Sinclair (glad to see he has again recyled the celery green suit), same old rhetoric. He and Dix don't even to open their mouths as you already know what is coming, word for word.

@bobh
sorry bob, could you clarify, which part of my comment to "Mike" did you not understand?

or was that your attempt to thwart my freedom of speech?

@ bobh:

Don't even get me started on Canada Post.

My clients are both BC and Alberta based and on an average month I'm spending $300 - $400 on mailouts.

Same package ll the time, but as the weight tips just over 500g (504 g) it becomes parcel mail so the cost various from postal code to postal code.

I took an item in on Wed. last week that was heading to Port Coquitlam. I had the option of paying extra for next day delivery or, it would take 2 4 days.

Yet, I can mail a letter to Wales and have it there between 3 - 7 days.

Have you also noticed Canada Post still charges a 'fuel surcharge'? At one point it was to cover 'air' travel only but Canada Post also charges it on land items.

I've turned to courier services whenever I can as it is cheaper.

Why bother, if you disagree with the article, they immediately paint new democrat stripes on you and label your comments as using offensive language.

I can only assume the audience we are dealing with here is intellectually immature and must be shielded from such an offensive verbose utilizing the foul 3 letter word that rhyme with sass.


Jones, since you brought up Clark's mother Mavis, here's the first news item from the Sun after her win that describes what life was like looking after her mother in her final days with brain cancer.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Premier+designate+Christy+Clark+families+first+more+than+just+slogan/4353857/story.html

Lord, I've tried and I've tried
But my tears I can't hide

I'm gonna keep drinkin'
till I can't move a toe

and then maybe my heart
won't hurt me so !

Hank W.

"[Sinclair] and Dix don't even to open their mouths as you already know what is coming, word for word."

Love it, Max!

The saddest man in that room last night had to be Adrian Dix. One of the happiest would be Mike Farnsworth. Farnsworth (like Harcourt) is someone who the NDP likes to present as the face of the party. Dix (like Clark) is the real face of the party.

If Falcon had won, the NDP would feel secure in selecting Dix as leader, confident enough in their ability to slime him as an extremist. With Clark as the Liberal leader, they'll have no choice but to try to present a more moderate face to the province, and that means Farnsworth. They'll have a hell of a time beating her though, only chance is if they're able to prop up whatever party Delaney and the Zalm come up with.

"There is something very wrong with a system where an unelected individual can be selected by party members to be head of government."

Um, I don't know of a single democracy that doesn't allow that. All the Western European ones, Japan, India, Australia certainly do. The only one that might be a slight exception would be the US, and they allow vice presidents to succeed presidents and serve nearly an entire tem without being elected.

@ xnexus

You're mistaken.

The standard procedure in a Westminster type legislature is for a new leader to be chosen from among elected members of that party, as for example when Gordon Brown MP replaced Tony Blair MP as both leader of the Labour party and Prime Minister in the UK. Alternatively a first minister may be replaced should he lose the confidence of the house, as almost happened to Mr Harper, but again with elected member Mr Ignatieff.

In the case of a US VP, he or she is chosen as part of a team with the President. Their system then allows for a line of succession, number three being the elected Speaker of the House, number four the elected President of the Senate. Gerald Ford, the closest I can think of to what you suggest, although not elected as VP was nonetheless a congressman before he took the office and then the presidency.

So, unless you can give an actual example of a democratic parliament having having a first minister imposed upon it from outside, I stand by my claim that this process is aberrant and my opinion that it's wrong.

One interesting thing of note is that Don Millar of FD Element was doing the PR work for Christy - they go back a long way so that in itself isn`t a big deal BUT the fact that he is also prominent in the Vision Silly Hall gang should make for some interesting moments as the Mayor didn`t seem to welcome Christy with open arms.

If there is move afoot to possibily having Ralph Sultan step aside for Pamela in a by-election could Christy take the unusual but not unheard of step of appointing Pamela to a Cabinet position - while the NDP would rail against such a move that is exactly what they did with Ed John.

As an Abbott/Falcon supporter I think it is imperative that Christy name her three chief rivals to high profile Cabinet positions - if she intends to call the House back she would also need to name an interim leader - any thoughts on who might be a good choice for this.

@david hadaway
You, sir, are in serious need of some Canadian history and poli sci lessons. What you speak of may be "standard procedure" in the Westminster system as it exists in Britain, but it has evolved quite differently in Canada over the past several decades. Many Premiers across this nation have come to office not holding a seat in their respective parliament at the time of their election to their party's leadership and, thus, had to subsequently seek seats through by-elections or general elections. To name a few examples: Ernie Eves in Ontario, Catherine Callbeck in Prince Edward Island, Brian Tobin in Newfoundland, etc., etc. Furthermore, many party leaders have been elected without holding a seat in parliament at the time of their election and also had to seek seats later on, be it through by-elections or general elections. There are numerous examples.

Well, Macgregor, thank you for the lesson. Of course you're right that what has happened here is no longer an aberration within the context of Canadian politics.

In my defence I must say my reply was in the context of the international examples quoted by Xnexus. If it is wrong, as suggested in the original comment, that this kind of thing is inconceivable in other democracies I would be genuinely interested to know, although it wouldn't change my opinion that it is something to be regretted.

Anybody remember Bill Vander Zalm in 1986?

After his premier designate status during the August Whistler leadership convention and his subsequent swearing in, he did not have a legislative seat until the late October, 1986 provincial election.

Nobody cared.

The Thought of The Evening

"Gregor to Spaceship: 'Hi Clark! Bye Clark!' Spaceship to Gregor:'Up Yours!'"

Aye, nothing like the beginning of a new romance in BC politics. I said it before, I'll say it again, with a little add-on this time.

"STUPID + VANCOUVER + BC= BC STUPIDER"

After three recent, different elections, and after seeing how things turned out in Vancouver and in BC, all I can say is:

“ICH BIN EIN BC STUPIDER”.

We live in Vancouver,BC and this keeps us busy.

Christy - I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member. On that note, be aware:

Your proposition may be good,
But let's have one thing understood,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
And even when you've changed it or condensed it,
I'm against it.

I don't know what you have to say,
It makes no difference anyway,
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
No matter what it is or who commenced it,
I'm against it.

Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted

Gregor T. Hollyhock, ruler of Greendonia

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