The provincial Liberals took a gamble by betting big on the Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election. So it seems only appropriate that the party's election day manager was Jacee Schaefer, the former vice-president of intergovernmental and media relations for the largest casino operator in British Columbia - Great Canadian Gaming Corp. As the president of the Casino Management Council of British Columbia, Ms. Schaefer was also one of the big movers and shakers behind gambling expansion in this province. But her place among right-wing cogs and wheels is equally prominent.
Ms. Schaefer became involved with Social Credit in 1975, having articled with Rafe Mair's Kamloops law firm and worked on his campaign. She also volunteered for the party during the city's 1981 by-election, which saw Claude Richmond elected to the legislature. That made her one of Socred dark prince Bud Smith's many devotees, which included future Liberal executive director Kelly Reichert and Greg Lyle. In 1988, Ms. Schaefer went to campaign for Conservative Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon, along with Mr. Lyle. The two re-emerged on the British Columbia political scene seven years later during the Abbotsford by-election, with Mr. Lyle being the Liberal's chief strategist and and Ms. Schaefer responsible for election day operations - the same jobs they'd do during the 1996 provincial election.
In a 1997 interview with Vancouver Sun staffer John MacKie, Ms. Schaefer said she considered Patrick Kinsella, one of Socred Premier Bill Bennett's chief advisors and now the most influential Liberal backroom boy in the British Columbia, to be her political mentor. Mr. Kinsella, who is friends with Mr. Smith and has been a consultant for Great Canadian Casino, was also on hand for the Surrey by-election last night. He is the Liberal's 2005 re-election campaign co-chair.