Top of Mind - November 29, 2010

Earlier, we mentioned Christy Clark would be a formidable candidate if she made a bid to succeed Gordon Campbell. But what would be the drawbacks to her candidacy?

Ms. Clark is unpalatable to some federal Conservatives. That will be hard to change even if politicos such as Ken Boessenkool, a former senior policy advisor and strategist to Stephen Harper, are members of her campaign team. Ms. Clark has acknowledged she'll also be burdened by her record as a talk show host - which includes attacks on members of the Campbell administration. And you can expect a re-examination of her record in government, as well as questions about what she'll do if she loses the leadership race. Should the answer to that question be a return to CKNW, Ms. Clark will likely confront accusations she's a political tourist. Moreover, it's uncertain how the media will react to one of their own making a bid for higher office. So far, in the absence of a decision on the matter, it's been confusion: why would Ms. Clark risk her salary and prime real estate on Vancouver's airwaves for a return to politics? But will that reaction change in the future?

Speaking of federal Conservatives, what's their opinion of the provincial Liberal leadership race right now?

It's assumed most Tories will lineup behind either Rich Coleman or Kevin Falcon. But at least some members of the federal party aren't enthusiastic about either candidate - questioning whether Messrs. Coleman and Falcon have what it takes to keep the province's right-wingers in the same political tent. At this late date, it's unlikely any effort to find an alternative will succeed. And that means the BC Conservatives may have more of a future than we initially thought.

24 hours' columnist Bill Tieleman has suggested the provincial New Democrats should move a planned review vote on Carole James's leadership of the party from November to March. But will that vote favour the dissidents?

It's difficult to know. But what we do know is Ms. James and her supporters can draw on the strength of the labour movement and the party apparatus to suppress dissent against her leadership - as was evidenced during the recent provincial council meeting. By comparison, the dissidents don't have the resources to mobilize a get out of the vote effort against the New Democrat leader. As such, they'd be betting heavily on latent convention delegate opposition against Ms. James to swing the review vote in their favour. And that's a bad bet to make.

Why haven't dissident MLAs been more articulate in expressing their concerns about Ms. James?

At present, their communications strategy seems to best resemble that of the Soviet Union during the Cold War: conducting nuclear weapon tests as a crude means of sending diplomatic messages to the United States. As a result, British Columbians remain mostly unaware of the complex concerns surrounding Ms. James's leadership. But understand that communicating those concerns is at odds with the existing culture of caucus solidarity engrained in our political system. Indeed, if the dissidents had done so, Ms. James would have had an excuse o expel them from caucus. Just look at what happened to Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson when he criticizing her speech to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities annual general meeting. Nevertheless, the dissidents are going to need to break with that culture to stand any chance of rebuilding their personal credibility - let alone forcing a change within the New Democrats.

1 Comment

Let's all cheer for Carole James's say nothing leadership.

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