Liberal MLAs could learn a lot from Bennett

During the recent provincial Liberal leadership race, 40 legislators publicly endorsed a candidate. But only six were able able to deliver a majority of the first ballot vote in their ridings to their candidate of choice. According to numbers released the party, independent MLA Bill Bennett was the biggest hero, managing to win 61.6 percent of the vote in Kootenay East for George Abbott. This suggests Mr. Bennett may be the one of the few MLAs in touch with and able to lead his riding, dramatically illustrating just how weak the connection is between most Liberal legislators and their own constituency associations.

Even Rich Coleman - long reputed to be a legendary grassroots organizer - delivered less than 40 percent of the vote in his riding to Kevin Falcon. In addition, 15 MLAs couldn't even muster a plurality of the vote in their constituencies.

The Liberals' new leader Christy Clark benefited from this problem. But it's one that she must address. And a good starting point would be to talk to Mr. Bennett about what he's doing right and what many of his former colleagues are doing wrong.

The following is a complete copy of my analysis.

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George Abbott, (Shuswap, Abbott - 92.1%)
Bill Bennett (Kootenay East, Abbott - 61.6%)
Kevin Falcon (Surrey-Cloverdale, Falcon - 57.2%)
Norm Letnik (Kelowna-Lake Country, Abbott - 55.2%)
Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission, Abbott - 54%)
Pat Pimm (Peace River North, Falcon - 54%)
Eric Foster (Vernon-Monashee, Abbott - 51.2%)
Dave Hayer (Surrey-Tynehead, Falcon - 50.1%)
Mary Polak (Langley, Falcon - 49.7%)
Harry Bloy (Burnaby Lougheed, Clark - 49.5%)
Pat Bell (Prince George-Mackenzie, Falcon - 47.8%)
Shirley Bond (Prince George-Valemount, Falcon - 47%)
Joan McIntyre (West Vancouver-Sea to Sky Country, Falcon - 43.6%)
John Rustad (Nechako Lakes, Abbott - 43.2%)
John Yap (Richmond-Steveston, Falcon - 43.2%)
Don McRae (Comox Valley, Abbott - 42.1%)
Iain Black (Port Moody-Coquitlam, Falcon - 41.8%)
Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcotin, Abbott - 41.7%)
Kevin Kreuger (Kamloops-South Thompson, Abbott - 40.5%)
Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey-Panorama, Falcon - 40%)
Colin Hansen (Vancouver-Quilchena, Falcon - 39.9%)
Murray Coell (Saanich North and the Islands, Abbott - 39.7%)
Gordon Hogg (Surrey-White Rock, Abbott - 39.6%)
Rich Coleman (Fort Langley-Aldergrove, Falcon - 39.4%)
John Les (Chilliwack, Falcon - 39.2%)
Douglas Horne (Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, Falcon - 36.6%, Clark - 36.6%)*
Terry Lake (Kamloops-North Thompson, Abbott - 35.9%)
Margaret MacDiarmid (Vancouver-Fairview, Falcon - 35.8%, Clark - 40.2%)*
Marc Dalton (Maple Ridge-Mission, Falcon - 34.8%, Clark - 38.3%)*
Jane Thornwaite (North Vancouver-Seymour, Abbott - 34.1%, Clark - 34.1%)*
Mike de Jong (Abbotsford West, de Jong - 31.9%, Clark - 32.3%)*
Ralph Sultan (West Vancouver-Capilano, Abbott - 30.6%, Falcon - 36.8%)*
John Slater (Boundary-Similkameen, Abbott - 29.4%, Clark - 40.4%)*
Naomi Yamamoto (North Vancouver-Lonsdale, Abbott - 26.9%, Clark - 43.3%)*
Mary McNeil (Vancouver-False Creek, Abbott - 24%, Clark - 38.4%)*
Ida Chong (Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Falcon - 23.8%, Abbott - 32.9%)*
John van Dongen (Abbotsford South, Abbott - 22.6%, de Jong - 34.8%)*
Randy Hawes (Abbotsford-Mission, Abbott - 19.8%, Clark - 32.5%)*
Ron Cantelon (Parksville-Qualicum, Falcon - 18.5%, Clark - 45%)*
Richard Lee (Burnaby North, Abbott - 17.5%, Clark - 36%)*
Moira Stilwell (Vancouver-Langara, Abbott - 12.7%, Clark - 38.8%)*

* = indicates a riding where a plurality of the first ballot vote went to a leadership candidate not endorsed by its MLA

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Bernard von Schulmann is a policy and land use consultant. In 1999, he predicted "the New Democratic Party is looking at four safe seats" in the 2001 election. "A complete shutout is not an impossibility." In 2005, he was the campaign coordinator for Yes for BC-STV. Mr. Schulmann blogs at BC Iconoclast. He is presently a member of the provincial Liberals and the federal Conservatives, as well as being a pacifist Quaker.

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