Top of Mind - November 15, 2010

Until recently, Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon was perhaps the only cabinet minister to publicly admit to having leadership ambitions. So why did he tell The Vancouver Sun's Pamela Fayerman last week that former finance minister Carole Taylor would be the "ideal candidate" to succeed Premier Gordon Campbell?

Among all the potential leadership hopefuls, Mr. Falcon is most associated with the red-meat eating side of the provincial Liberals. Even Rich Coleman isn't seen as being so carnivorous, thanks to advancing policies with a social conscience. So if the health services minister wants to bag the big job and keep it he'll have to play against type. That means, in this case, endorsing media darling Ms. Taylor, who is seen as the province's penultimate moderate politician and probably isn't even interested in being premier. So expect to see similar actions from him in the future - such as giving a prominent federal Liberal a high-profile role in his campaign or proposing progressive policies that appeal to those outside his party's core constituency.

On Saturday, the provincial Liberal executive endorsed changing the way the party elects its leader to a preferential ballot system where the results will be weighted "to ensure each electoral district is counted equally." So will any of the candidates who hope to succeed Gordon Campbell oppose that change, which must ratified at an extraordinary convention on February 12?

The party has called the change an attempt to "modernize the Party's leadership vote process" to "give every region of the province an equal say." As a result of that framing, it'll be difficult for leadership candidates to publicly oppose such a move without politically damaging themselves in rural constituencies. But that doesn't mean those who stand to benefit from the present one member, one vote system won't privately organize against modernization.

Which candidate is most helped by the provincial Liberal executive's decision to endorse a weighted leadership vote and put a $450,000 spending cap on leadership campaigns?

Education Minister George Abbott is likely the biggest winner. The cap works against the big money campaigns that could have been run by candidates such as Messrs. Coleman and Falcon. And it gives Mr. Abbott a fighting chance he wouldn't have had under a one member, one vote system - allowing him to make an appeal to the regions for support.

Why is everyone so concerned about Christy Clark entering the race to succeed Mr. Campbell?

Ms. Clark would be a formidable leadership candidate for a number of reasons. With Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts ruling out a run, it's conceivable the CKNW talk show host would be the only woman in the race, as well as the only caucus outsider. But her background as a cabinet minister during the first Campbell administration means Ms. Clark isn't a provincial political rookie either. Ms. Clark would also have experienced organizers supporting her leadership bid. And her strong connections to British Columbia's ethnic communities would enable her to mobilize a powerful voting block.

3 Comments

I couldn't agree more with what you've written about Christy Clark. The draft Christy movement is growing at http://www.facebook.com/draftchristy

I doubt Christy Clark will run - she has ruled out for years a return until her boy Hamish is older. But at this point I hope she gets the shoot cue... and takes it!

That said, it was an acute movement of YouTube & Twitter that got Mary Polak from obscurity and unfair infamy to the top choice of cabinet. I'm sure social media will decide this campaign - and I'm happy PublicEyeOnline is an important theatre in this campaign.

Does anyone suppose Kevin could raise campaign funds from the private medical clinics he allows to continue thumbing their noses at the Canada Health Act or the multi-national medical corps that lust after private healthcare, or pharmaceutical companies that are treated so gently by politicians like Falcon.

Maybe the Liberals should have set the entry fee even higher and kept out all the nuisance candidates. Let the big guys but whomever they wish as the new leader.

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