Today, government deputy house leader Barry Penner opined on CKNW that the B.C. Conservatives might split the right-wing vote during the next election. But that's not the only thing the new party could split. Astute readers will know the provincial Liberals aren't exclusively Liberal. Many former Socreds and federal Conservatives count themselves as party members. And, for the most part, Premier Gordon Campbell has done a masterful job of keeping that coalition together - this perhaps being the one uncontestable accomplishment of his administration.
But, there has always been some concern among Conservatives about the amount of influence the Grits have within the provincial party. In fact, during an interview with Georgia Straight columnist Bill Tieleman, former Socred cabinet minister and Tory house leader John Reynolds threatened to launched a provincial Conservative party to take on the Liberals.
Of course, since the raids on the legislature, that influence has diminished. Former powerhouse cabinet minister Christy Clark, who is married to Martinite high priest Mark Marissen, has been relegated to the nearly-always politically fatal ministry of children and family development (although she seems to have done a good job of navigating those treacherous waters). And ex-ministerial assistant major domo David Basi, a prominent Indo-Canadian boss for the Grits, is under suspicion for all sorts of alleged misdeeds.
But that won't stop the provincial Conservatives, who have no formal relationship with their federal namesakes, from selling themselves as the real home for uncompromising right-thinking politicos in British Columbia. And that could mean, if the party chooses an electable figurehead as their leader (perhaps a prominent former cabinet-ranking politician), some disillusioned federal Conservatives operatives might be tempted to disembark from the S.S. Gordon Campbell. And that would truly test the premier's skills at keeping his coalition together.