Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blair Lekstrom – Does He Matter?

This is my column for 24 hours this week

Blair Lekstrom leaving cabinet and the government caucus on Friday was a big blow to the government, but not a lethal one. The way he handled the announcement certainly was not planned to maximize impact to the government. A Friday afternoon is the time to make a bad news announcement so that the weekend mutes reactions. .

Blair Lekstrom's decision was taken without consulting with the people who worked to get him elected in the last three elections. It shows a lack of class not to tell the people on your riding association what your doing or that you are even contemplating it. It also shows a lack of political smarts, he has burned the people that worked hardest to get him elected.

Is he the first of a flood of Liberal MLAs leaving the party? I do not think so, there seems to be little to indicate anyone else is going to cross the floor. The MLAs are well informed about the HST and people well informed tend to support it. Blair Lekstrom certainly waffled in all I have seen about opposing the HST. Leaving the party when you defended the HST and are the minister for the part of the economy that will benefit a lot makes no sense.

Leaving a year ago would have been brave political statement, leaving now only looks like you are afraid the ship is sinking. Being seen as an opportunist does nothing to improve your chances of getting elected again.

Sitting as an independent takes a lot of hard work to make any difference. In the 13 months since Vicki Huntingdon has been elected, she has once again shown that unless you are a really exceptional person, being an independent makes you irrelevant in the legislature. Having two independents is hardly going to make more of an impact.

Will he join the BC Conservatives? I think the more important question is do they want him? The reactions for the party have been lukewarm to him joining them. He would have the biggest impact on BC politics if he were a BC Conservative and more so if he was the leader. It seems neither he nor the party can think strategically when it comes to politics.

The state of the Campbell government is no worse because of Lekstrom' resignation and in in fact a lbit safer. Lekstrom is now unlikely to be a recall target but as a Liberal he was close to the top of the list. The government has some time before serious recall campaigns start as they are only likely to have any success if the government does not put the HST question to a referendum. There is little danger of the government losing enough MLAs from floor crossing or recalls to lose their majority before the HST referendum..

The question now comes down to how well Campbell can govern and how long HST anger can be sustained? The date for a referendum on the HST will be September 24th 2011 and 15 months is a lifetime in politics.
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