Rolling the dice

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.

8 Comments

Snake Eyes... Liberals Lose. Could even say that the Fiberals did quite CRAPpy on Thursday night. And much like gamblers who lost their shirt playing a flush against a full house in stud poker... Gordo went away mumbling to himself, making excuses for getting his candidate's butt shot off. The good news for New Dems is that Ms. Polak is going to run again in the provincial election. Better get the hankies out to wipe the egg off Gordo's face on May 18th. Maybe the New Dems will luck out and Gordo will flood the Surrey Panorama Ridge neighbourhood with more of his flunkies from cabinet, and she'll get drubbed by even more.

Come on English and Larsen, lets hear the excuses about how no governing party has won a by election since Rafe Mair's seat was filled in 1981. Let's hear about how Big Labour went in there and totally took over the campaign from the meek defenseless Liberal government, who just happened to jack up the ads and rhetoric and advertising, plus restore the PST to its previous level, but of course with no intent on helping out their star candidate.

Lets hear the one about how the East Indian community voted as a block against Mary Polak. Out of curiousity, can anyone tell me the last time a south surrey riding in a rather affluent community voted NDP???

Actually kegler, my analysis concludes that this was a MAJOR ass kicken’ to the Liberals. There are no excuseses. The Libs’ wanted to win this riding and badly, indeed I would submit everything but he kitchen sink was thrown at this riding. Both the “race card”, “big labor” and “by-election history” might fend off a lesser loss, but this was much bigger.

About the only upside I can say is that now The Liberals know exactly what to expect for May 17. This crucial defeat will serve as the critical “wake up” call required to properly prepare for next years election.

The frightening part is that an NDP candidate was just elected with zero platform, zero agenda, and zero track record. This was an anti-government vote and a message that was delivered loud and clear.

I also concur with your other point kegler, to re-run Polak in the next general election is not the answer to regain the riding. A loss is indeed a loss and this one is painful – make no mistake about it and no excuse offered. Sometimes you need to loose the battle in order to win the war.

I have to agree that the Liberals know exactly what to expect next May. People have had enough of these liars. There isn`t much that the "Liberals" can do- their lying record of 3.5 years pretty much speaks for itself. Now if some of the news surrounding the raid on the legislature would start trickling out, I`d say their fate in May is sealed. Enough of this multinational dictatorship.

I believe that Mr. Brar has a track record in so far as community activism. But in terms of elected track record, like school board or something like that, then no. But then again Kevin, in 2001, alot of people from the Liberals got elected without a track record and a platform that for the most part was a total sham. But in the spirit of the post you left, I'll put aside the rhetoric for the moment and just analyze Surrey Panorama Ridge for a moment.

I think the Libs are screwed royally there. Campbell made another huge blunder in tying the tin cans and Just Married sign to Ms. Polak's cadillac. So who does that leave? Hmmm what former liberal MLA lives in Panorama Ridge and practices medicine there. Ohh yeah thats right, Gulzar Cheema. But of course with the leader of the Libs openly endorsing Ms. Polak for the nomination (basically acclaimation) that leaves Dr. Cheema out in the cold.

As for platform, I'll say this. Why develop a platform and promise the world, when you don't know what the books are going to look like prior to the next election? People know what the NDP's position is on various issues such as environmental stewardship and sustainability, affordable tuition (not increases of 40 to 60%/yr), quality education and the like, traditional strong planks of an NDP party. Government after government, going back to the Socred days of Bill Bennett, have come into office, on platforms, only to find that what they believed was there in Victoria wasn't, or at least played that hand to lessen the blow to the people that like many politicians before and after, a promise made is a promise broken. But sometimes a deferred promise for the right reasons such as an ensuing recession, isn't such a bad thing.

Government after government, Socred, NDP and Liberals, have cried the blues, and laid the blame on the previous administrations. The Liberals were the first ones to come forward with an ill advised tax cut (blind man's russian roulette) without looking at the books first, or seeing what was coming on the horizon (not 9/11, but the winds of recession that were blowing strongly during the summer of 2001). 9/11 didn't cause the recession that occurred, it was coming before then. 9/11 just highlighted it and jacked it into high gear.

Whats changed, I think, is that there's a debate taking place over the relationship of the party with labour. Based on the financial numbers, The BCNDP receives 80% of its funding from private donors, not from Big Labour as Campbell likes to spout off about. And much like the East Indian or any other community, not everyone who has a union card in their wallet is pro NDP, contrary to the picture Mr. Campbell likes to paint.

As a matter of fact, speaking of that. There's a big brohaha right now going on over why Concert Properties donated $16,665 to the Campbell Liberals, and actively uses union members pension money to support 3 P projects, in contravention of alot of the affiliated union's positions on 3Ps. A donation that large could almost shoot down the idea that Big Labour has the NDP in its hip pocket. Of course, the CEO of Concert is David Podmore and the Chairman of the Board is Jack Poole. And there's pressure being applied to have that money paid back to Concert Properties by Mssrs. Podmore and Poole. However the Board itself refused to answer a letter sent to them by 8 members of unions who's pensions are invested in Concert Properties. Thankfully, none of my pension investments are tied into that, or I too would be right steamed. Anyways, I said I would contain the rhetoric, so back to my original thought.

I like your analogy about losing the battle to win the war. Except for one thing. You're dealing with Gordon Campbell here. If you listened to the reaction (as you did and state in your post) did you get the sense that he got the message? I heard him and his spin machine talk about "big labour" this, and how "the NDP got their vote out and we didn't..." that. The excuses were flying left and right. Honestly Kevin, you're dealing with an idealogue in Campbell. Let's be honest, Surrey Panorama Ridge is NOT NDP territory. Yet, the Liberals managed to fumble it away. The one telling stat they're going to blame is the voter turnout, but my question is why, with the polls showing how close it was in the previous days, could the Liberals not get their vote out to the polls. Indifference, anger, what was it. Yes they were outworked by the NDP and that campaign team.

The one thing that Campbell and his inner circle will never blame for the loss, is themselves. And that arrogance, smugness, egomaniaical attitude that their inner circle possesses, that they're right and everyone not on their side is wrong, I think could come back and really bite them in the ass hard. And with 7 months to go before the election, I don't see Campbell taking anything from this by election defeat. I think its full speed ahead, man the lifeboats and watch out for that iceberg off the port bow.

He turned the thing into a referendum on his leadership, and he got blown out of the water. And he made things worse by doing so, not only for himself but for the party. I obviously hope you're wrong about winning the battle, but we'll see.

At the end of the day, as someone once said, and as was proved on Thursday night, Gordon Campbell is the best organizer the NDP could have ever hoped for.

Kevin,

If you're wating for kegler to acknowledge your dead-honest reply, I wouldn't hold your breath. He doesn't know how to respond, because he knows that he would never in a million years have been willing to suck it up and tell the truth if the tables were turned.

Fanatics like kegler still believe that that the only reason the NDP were trounced out of office in 2001 is because the "corporate media" and "Howe Street" were arrayed against them. You see, despite his man-of-the-people hand wringing, New Democrats like kegler are the biggest elitists around. They think the public are immense idiots, easily brainwashed. There can be no other explanation for why every single man, women and infant in BC doesn't agree completely with kegler's view of the world.

When you scratch below the surface there is very little difference between kegler and an evangelical christian. Their mission is identical, to work tirelessly to ensure every person on the planet believes the same things they do.

I'm sure it's very clear to people on this board that I am not a NDP supporter. However, I am also not a right-winger. I cannot stand the dogmatic wherever they reside on the ideological spectrum.

I can tell you one thing, I would feel a whole lot better about the NDP forming another government if NDP supporters would simply and honestly acknowledge the mistakes they made, their excesses and failures from their last term in office rather than blaming everything and everyone else under the sun. None of this generalized "We made mistakes" nonsense but when pressed the only mistake they'll admit to is Fast Ferries, and that only grudgingly.

From what I have read of your posts, Mr. English, you would appear to be a right wing version of kegler. It may surprise you, but many supporters of the NDP are not necessarily dyed in the wool socialists, only people that find the policies of the NDP the closest thing to their personal values. Many people voted for Campbell on the basis of their New Era platform. Now after experiencing 3.5 years of Campbell government, they find that there is very little of the New Era platform that relates to what has actually transpired, ie BC Rail sold to American based interests, BC Hydro partially controlled by offshore interests, legislature raided with very little answers yet, etc,etc,etc. To sum it up, the "average" voter with at least some amount of interest, will investigate the policies of the different parties and make some manner of choice. Some of these will take a look at the Green , NDP, or Liberal, whatever. The one thing that many of us do have in common despite this, is that we have a strong dislike for liars, regardless of party, and that is where we find ourselves in 2004-with a government comprised of liars, and that is why they have to go.

You know kegler, it must be a cold day somewhere when I find myself agreeing with some, however certainly not all, of your comments. Principally where I agree;

Campbell made a miscalculation in getting into bed with Polak; endorsement is one thing, however jumping on that campaign ship was another. In doing so there was no way he could distance himself from the defeat. Having said that, I truly believe that the Lib’s were expecting a victory here, or at the very least a very narrow defeat. As I have already conceded, to point out the Union’s role and not take some responsibility is almost as foolish as brazenly committing to re-running Polak after the Surrey Panorama voters rejected her.

I also agree with your comments regarding the NDP’s lack of a platform, however I disagree with your take that it all comes down to the books. I think even the most ardent NDP supporter must concede (of course as John English correctly points out the NDP refuse to concede anything) that Campbell has delivered in many areas - The new balanced budget legislation will solve the cooked booked policy that was masterminded so well by the NDP. However if I was an NDP campaign strategist the fact is I have just watched my party return from something like 11-13 % in the polls to close to 38%-44% , and more importantly won a critical by-election WITHOUT any formal platform - so really; why start now ?

Herein lies your comment I most agree with; “Gordon Campbell is the best organizer the NDP could have ever hoped for “ The fact is one need look no further than the HEU to see how Campbell has created a formidable army against his government. Of course if you look at the 6,000 surgeries cancelled by the illegal job action I can understand why the NDP party tries to distance itself from publicly acknowledging the ties to organized Unions.

Where I disagree with you is your comments about Union support for the NDP. It is interesting how you claim only 20% of the NDP donations come from Unions; this is misleading, principally it does not include the so called “private-donations” that come from Union members each month, nor does it include the field organizers hired by the BC Fed, nor does it include paid Union staff provided for free of charge, nor Union anti-government advertising placed directly from the Union’s leadership, etc,etc. The fact that Unions try to hide behind normal everyday working people is most insulting, and for the NDP to carry on the charade is humorous at best.

My question to you kegler is where does all of the Union money really go if only 20% is allocated to the NDP? Rumour has it the real reason why the Unions backed down from the general strike was due to the Campbell government threatening legislation that would make Union finances far more open and accountable to the general public. I always wondered if that rumour was true, of course I also always wondered why the Unions backed down when they had the Libs on their knees. Time will tell I suppose.

Well, it doesn't really matter at this point what happens. We can slam the NDP for fast spending on a large credit card, and for the Liberal Party going into it blindly as well. Both parties promise the voters "everything" and life is a bowl of cherries, but the bottom line is, most politicians are down-right liars.

First off, how can you promise voters all these perks of "we will make give taxes back", "we will put money into health care and education", yet they haven't seen the books and contracts of the former government. I have rarely seen this comment I just made in any newspaper or on any board. I often wonder where everyone's head is at.

This is how I see it. The NDP had a party of spending on a credit card, knowing full well we had baby boomers coming around the corner at top speed, yet what did the NDP do about health care? Not a darn thing! When the NDP knew they would not be voted back in because most voters were sick of the broken promises and one lie after the other, the only other party to vote for was the Liberals. I do believe Campbell did have a dream, but unfortunately it's his and he's not sharing it with anyone!

Do you honestly think the NDP will do better? Hardly. They back unions, and just like any of the parties we've had they want "mo money!" After all, isn't that what it is really all about. I don't care for the NDP's low blows to any party, and after getting us into so much trouble in the 90's I hardly think they can accuse the Liberal Party of scandals and lies. I think they should look in their own backyard first.

So, where does that leave us? Between a rock and a hard place. Hell, I'm considering voting for the Marijuana party. If I have to pay high taxes, be lied too, and see my hard earned tax dollars squandered I would rather feel like I'm on the moon and it won't hurt so much.

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