Top of Mind - March 7, 2011

What questions arise from Christy Clark's first week as premier-designate?

The most substantive news during that first week was Ms. Clark's decision to replace public service agency head Allan Seckel with John Dyble, a senior bureaucrat who has a long-association with second-place provincial Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon. That decision would have likely pleased Mr. Falcon, helping the premier-designate build support within caucus. But it also raises a number of concerns. For starters, Mr. Seckel is being pushed out the door just 16 days after the Liberal leadership vote - leaving him little time to advise Ms. Clark and her transition team on what's been happening inside government. That push also prompted an email from Mr. Seckel in which he advised public servants he didn't want to leave government. That's unusual messaging for a mandarin of his stature. So was this just a poor choice of words on Mr. Seckel's part or does it indicate his replacement was mishandled by Ms. Clark and her team?

Will independent legislator Bill Bennett be welcomed back into the Liberal caucus?

Without Mr. Bennett caucus, the incoming Clark administration won't have any MLAs in the Kootenays. There's also a chance the independent MLA might make a successful bid for the provincial Conservative leadership, increasing the likelihood the party will draw right-wing and rural votes away from the Liberals in the next election. These are the reasons why Ms. Clark should want to bring Mr. Bennett back into the Liberal fold. Nevertheless, there are some caucus members who might not want that to happen - causing complications for the premier-designate, who needs to shore up her support with those MLAs in the short-term. And she may be concerned Mr. Bennett could be a long-term liability, given his past willingness to step out of line.

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