After years in power, could we be seeing the end of the B.C. Liberal Party as the top dog in the province?
If the rapid departure of sitting MLAs is any indication, then the answer is yes.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon resigned, a significant blow to Premier Christy Clark’s chances of regaining power in the next election, slated for May 2013. Falcon was one of the stars in Clark’s cabinet and gave her a close run for her money during last year’s leadership contest.
Falcon will serve out his remaining days as MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale, then will concentrate on his family instead of politics.
As we went to press Thursday morning, a press conference was set for Victoria where speculation around the legislature was that Education Minister George Abbott, who also ran in the leadership race, would also be resigning along with Children and Family Development Minister Mary McNeil and parliamentary secretary to the premier John Les.
If those resignations take place, that would bring the total number of MLAs who have jumped the Liberal ship to 10. Other MLAs who have resigned include Bill Barisoff, Harry Bloy, Murray Coell, Dave Hayer, Kash Heed and Kevin Krueger. All these MLAs are long tenured politicians and have made significant impacts within the party.
And while we recognize that some have resigned because it’s just time to retire, time to leave politics for family and other career paths, the writing is clearly on the wall — many in the Liberal party know that this is a sinking ship that won’t be able to right itself come May.
Clark, of course, was down-playing talks of the sinking ship on Wednesday. And who can blame her? Of course, she has to put on a brave face, say all the right things.
She said she understood Falcon’s decision to choose family over politics. She, in fact, made a similar decision in 2005 when she left politics for family reasons only to land a gig on CKNW radio shortly after.
She wants to see party renewal and said that is why she was chosen as the new leader — to renew and reinvigorate the party. Well, she will certainly get her chance for renewal. The question is will the B.C. voters give her the chance? At this point, we’re guessing no. The deck is stacked against her. Too many years of previous bad decisions by then premier Gordon Campbell and now the public perception of discourse within the party at an all time high with the resignation of so many high-profile MLAs will probably spell the end of the Liberal reign.
But B.C. politics has never been predictable. Clark may find some great replacements and may give the NDP a run for their money. But in light of these latest developments, it’s hard to bet on the Liberals.
— Ian Jacques