Christy Clark has a long road to unity

Unity was the theme as Mike de Jong

VANCOUVER – Christy Clark spoke passionately about teamwork, unity and listening in the moments after winning the B.C. Liberal leadership, with 48 per cent of voting members arrayed against her to the end.“Our government will be stronger because of the dialogue we all started with British Columbians, and we are going to build on that, together,” Clark told a packed convention hall. “We are going to shape the future of B.C., together. We are going to forge a bigger, stronger coalition, together.”A few minutes later, in the middle of the crowded room, an argument between two men turned into a shoving match that escalated until two others jumped in and separated them.Outside the convention hall, Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen was clarifying to reporters that he had not said he was quitting the caucus if Clark defeated his choice, George Abbott. Despite his earlier musings about considering his options in a Clark-led caucus, van Dongen was suddenly impressed with the desire of his colleagues to work together and was keen to do the same.Van Dongen wasn’t the only one shocked at seeing Abbott, the Shuswap MLA and champion of rural B.C., finish third. Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett had figured the weighted voting system would give Abbott a good shot at bringing his team of mainly Campbell outsiders into the inner circle. Bennett said he felt “pretty good, for a loser,” and showed a brave smile. His choice is not to leave the caucus, but to come back in, if he is invited.The next morning, former Reform and Conservative MP Randy White spoke about the Clark win on CFAX radio in Victoria. He’s working to professionalize a moribund B.C. Conservative Party, and he said he watched a surge of people joining that party as soon as Clark’s narrow victory was known.The B.C. Conservatives will announce new supporters shortly, White said, and people will be surprised. They were not counting on Bennett to be one of those, although White said Bennett told him a month ago he would sign up if Clark won the B.C. Liberal leadership.White is convinced that Clark’s victory is a “defining moment” for B.C. politics. No longer will the B.C. Liberals be able to tell voters, it’s us or the NDP.“We’re now acknowledging, and the Liberals are acknowledging that they are a Liberal party,” White said.During the campaign, Clark blundered about on the harmonized sales tax, the timing of the next election and the government’s ability to cap the rapid growth of health-care spending. She’s fond of saying she spent the last four years listening to the people as a radio host. Apparently that’s long enough to start believing the bumper-sticker solutions that are so often the fodder of talk radio.There were more hints of this in her victory speech. Clark’s top two priorities are “job creation and fighting poverty.” She’s just won the leadership of a party that has been saying for 15 years that government doesn’t create jobs. And the NDP continues its own earnest but mainly fanciful debate about how poverty can be legislated away by government intervention, while trumpeting distorted statistics about the plight of B.C. children.If Clark wants to reach out to conservative-minded voters, she might start by acknowledging that the province is currently running an operating deficit of close to $1 billion, with another year in the red still to come. But so far it looks as if she will tack to the left, and risk making the B.C. Conservatives’ day.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

Just Posted

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Around the BCHL: Nanaimo Clippers acquire defenceman from Langley Rivermen

Around the BCHL is a look at goings on around the BCHL and the junior A world.

Public to get access to ‘detailed listing of expenditures’ incurred by council every year

Newly amended Council Remuneration and Expense Bylaw given three readings and approved Sept. 19

Chilliwack man charged in 2017 drug bust pleads guilty, released on time served

Second accused still faces numerous trafficking and weapons charges

Barn fire closes Prairie Central Road

Fire quickly brought under control

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Pot, cash, mansions: Judge divvies up illegal estate of divorcing B.C. couple

The Smiths ran a multi-million marijuana operation that spanned three counties

Taking life one step at a time with Little Feet

Book documents horrific 2001 accident that drastically changed B.C. woman’s future

Around the BCHL: Nanaimo Clippers acquire defenceman from Langley Rivermen

Around the BCHL is a look at goings on around the BCHL and the junior A world.

B.C. co-op develops tech to help prevent ODs, especially for alone users

Brave Technology has been awarded $200,000 in the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge

Recent jump in U.S. butter imports? All smooth, says Canadian dairy farmers

U.S. farmers recently enjoyed extra access to the Canadian market

Potential replacements for Phoenix pay system to start testing soon: Brison

Testing of prototypes to replace troubled federal pay system will begin within weeks

Nanaimo’s Tilray Inc. briefly the world’s largest cannabis company

The company, only listed in the US, nearly reached $300 in afternoon trading on Wednesday

Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

Smart was 14 years old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by street preacher Brian David Mitchell

Most Read