Thursday, August 18, 2011

Christy Clark as Premier

We have reached a bit more than five months of Christy Clark as premier of BC and we get some sense of what she is like as a leader.  

To this point I would have say she is the most inclusive premiers BC has seen since Mike Harcourt, in fact in the history of the province since 1993, she is one of the most inclusive premiers we have seen.   Cabinet members have more authority to look after their bailiwicks than in the vast majority of governments in the last 108 years.   I am happy to see the change, but I would love to see more change to a different style of government that gives the legislature more real power over the executive council.

She has not done anything radical but seems to be slowly remaking the government into the direction she wants it to go.   She still has a caucus that supported two of the other leadership candidates which means there still very few "Clark" loyalists among the MLAs.    It is only with an election that this will change.

This brings us to a fall election.   I personally think the idea is folly for the government, but I can see the desire of the premier to have a caucus with more personal supporters.   The resignation of Barry Penner as AG seems to indicate that preparation for a fall election is still underway.   I am quite certain that the NDP will win a majority is an election is held anytime soon.

The biggest problem for Christy Clark is the perception that she is too Liberal for the right wing.   The BC Conservative party is on the rise and the election of Christy Clark only boosts their organization.   At this time the Liberals and Conservatives are not in the same league politically.   The Conservatives seem to be able to raise only 1% of the what the Liberals can, but where they could very well be leading is with the ground campaign.

The BC Conservatives have about 50 organization riding associations.   This means there are active groups meeting through out BC that have the intention of offering a serious right wing alternative to the Liberals.   The last serious party to the right of the Liberals was Social Credit in the 1991 election.   The BC Conservatives are planning on running 85 candidates but at least 50 of those will actually have a local ground campaign.

The BC Liberals have none, which is by design.    I have been a member of the Liberals for close to 12 years now and find this lack of a real local organization a major problem in building the social capital between party members.   We simply do not know each other and therefore are much less motivated to get involved with a ground campaign.

Christy Clark needs to take the time to build the Liberals as a real political party with riding associations, it is her best tool to counter the Conservatives.    I suspect the lure of an early election as a short cut to seeing off the Conservatives is a very tempting option.    I personally think there is way too much up in the air to hold an election for that reason.    At 10% in the polls, the Conservatives will start to win seats.

All that said, my sense is that any bleed of support to the Conservatives that happened because she won the leadership has now been stemmed.  Can she win back the free enterprise vote?   She will need to do that to have any chance of winning an election.

Quick trivia fact, on October 19th Christy Clark will become the longest serving female premier of BC.
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