Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Who Do I like for BC Liberal Leader?

I am a current BC Liberal member and I have a problem trying to decide who I will vote for in the leadership.   Given the VERY low membership in my riding, my vote carries more weight than in many other ridings in the province if the party goes with each riding having the same weight in the election.    So here is my current thinking on the candidates in the race.

I have met Christy Clark, George Abbott, Mike de Jong and Kevin Falcon over various points since the late 1990s.   I developed my closest relationships with Christy Clark and Mike de Jong and only met the other two in passing so can not judge them on a personal one to one basis.   It is this connection I have with them that makes it hard for me to consider the other two, but then there are political considerations that come into play.

My hope is that in 2013 whoever is the leader of the Liberals manages to win enough seats to make the party the government in waiting.   I am OK with the NDP winning government if they have a decent leader.   I do not hold out much hope of the Liberals winning the next election, there are too many factors working against them and their one saving grace, Carole James, has resigned.

Mike de Jong has always had time for me when I have needed to talk with him about something and this goes back to the late 1990s when he was in still in opposition and I was not a member of the BC Liberals and only some guy working for a First Nation.   What I also like about him is that politics is not the only thing in his life.

One short story from an interaction with him, about  seven years ago I was on a Sunday evening ferry sailing and in the line up for the buffet saw Patty Sahota whom I knew well.  She was with Mike de Jong and he invited myself and my son to share a table with them.  Daniel was eight at the time and I was worried he would be bored to tears by three adults talking politics, but that did not happen.   Mike spent the meal focusing his attention on Daniel and engaging with him.   For the better part of an hour and half he talked and joked with Daniel and made it a very enjoyable trip.

I tell you this because I really do like him and consider him to be thoughtful, but I am not certain he is the right man to lead the party.  I am not sure he has the gravitas to be able to pull together a government and be successful.  I think he is a good MLA and he is a good cabinet minister, but I am not certain he has the personal following that someone needs as leader.   I am concerned that no one in caucus is endorsing him.

Christy Clark I got to know through the BC Liberals as a member and I have enjoyed the times I have spent with her at conventions, fundraisers and other events.  I have seen very little of her since she left Victoria but do listen to her on CKNW some of the time.   She has been one of the most interesting new voices in radio in BC in more than a generation.  She is not another middle aged white guy.

I like her pragmatic approach to issues, she is very much a centrist and this is not a bad thing even though in BC it has not been the place from which to win elections.  My concern is that she is much too much tied to the federal Liberal party and I have disliked the federal Liberals as a party for a very long time.  There is an arrogant elitism that rubs me the wrong way, I am very much a believer in populism as an important grounding for all politics.  That said, I think Christy is personally much more of a populist than most federal Liberals normally are.

The times I have met Kevin Falcon has been at BC Liberal conventions and then at events he has hosted.      It has felt he has been preparing for a run at the leadership for many years now.   He feels too partisanly political for my liking and I have real trouble with how he used recall back in 1999.   That said, he is the most polished and best prepared to campaign for the party.   He also has an energy that is impressive.

If I were to pick the one candidate that would give the Liberals the best chance of winning I would have to say that would be Kevin Falcon, on the other hand I also see him as the candidate that could have the worst election result.

George Abbott has been impressing me with how well he is campaigning for the leadership.   I also like the fact that he is from rural BC.   It is important for BC to have someone from the economic core of the province to be in leadership from time to time, it has been too long since that last happened in BC.

George Abbott has been good in whatever cabinet role he has taken on and he seems to have the respect of a lot of his colleagues in the legislature.  He is not flashy, he is quietly competent.  He would most likely be the hardest person for the NDP to campaign against because it would be very hard to demonize him.   Other than being a cabinet member under Campbell, there really is no bad political baggage that he carries.  I know that some people out there will consider anyone that was in the Campbell government has being equivalent of some horrible devil, but that is simply not a reasonable or fair depiction of the person.

So where does this leave me?   I am leaning towards George Abbott but open to the idea of Christy Clark.
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