How long will the Clark honeymoon last?

All those smiles, waves, and made-for-TV hugs on stage after Christy Clark, the talk-show host outsider who won the Liberal Party leadership Saturday, were just the thin polish on a scrappy campaign fraught with resentments just barely below the surface among the Liberal establishment.On that stage there wasn’t one cabinet minister who had supported her when she said she’d run for the leadership last December. After all, she had walked from the Campbell government five years previously after navigating a rocky ministerial path, especially as the controversial education minister when she had imposed a hated collective agreement on teachers. Then there was the BC Rail sale scandal that still sticks, despite innocence of any involvement. The public demand for an independent enquiry will keep biting at her heels on this one.While the 45-year-old Premier-designate is not a member of the Legislative Assembly having not been elected in any B.C. riding (something she’s going to have to fix with a by-election quickly) she previously represented the ridings of Port Moody Westwood and Port Moody Burnaby Mountain during the decade 1996 to 2005 and was also a former deputy premier of B.C.After leaving government she became a successful CKNW talk show host, a familiar voice that paid off in spades as being comfortably known to many British Columbians.In the shifting dynamics of political campaigns, she took full advantage of her recognizable personality and wasted no time enlisting an army of volunteers to get out and sign up new members, then work the phones to ensure they voted. Her capitalization on those assets gave her a poll scoring far out in front of other contenders right from the get-go.But jumping back into the political fray with eyes glued on the top dog position must have really grated on the nerves of caucus members who’d been working in the trenches all along, taking the slings and arrows of the Campbell policies.Born in 1965, Clark is only the second woman to serve as provincial premier behind Socred MLA Rita Johnson, who served for a short spell in 1991. Political aspirations flow in her veins. Her father Jim Clark twice sought political office but failed.With the Saturday night love-in now a memory, Clark and her team have to put differences aside and get on with the job of running the province. There’s enough urgent work to be done without bickering in the hallways and like it or not they will all be taking their cues from her.She may be their apparent boss but their real boss is the B.C. tax payer. If they want the party to get re-elected, they had better knuckle down and earn their keep.Start with the economy, the need for a balanced budget, the need to address unemployment, the HST referendum, health care costs, education.  Clark will want to call an early election and ride on her popularity. History dictates it doesn’t last long. And she promises to do that through a more transparent, open government.Where have you heard that before?“I want you to be my partners in change in Victoria,” she said in her victory speech. “I want you to be my partners in bringing open government. You can count on me to listen, you can count on me to engage and you can count on me to make sure government really does include you. I have specific ideas on how to do these things but I also need to hear from you.”I hope she means what she says. And I wish her well. Her success as a leader will translate into a more effective government and better times ahead for everyone.

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