Will Christy Clark proposed harmonized sales tax fix be enough to win the upcoming referendum on the HST?
According to an Ipsos-Reid Corp. survey conducted last week, 60 percent of British Columbia approve of that fix, while 42 percent say they would now cast their ballots in favour of the tax. But the polling company explicitly states it "did not measure the likelihood of respondents actually voting in the mail-in referendum. While overall public opinion on the HST is split, it may well be that one side is more motivated to participate in the referendum than the other."
Indeed, that advantage still likely rests with Fight HST - whose negative, emotional messaging is more motivational than the Smart Tax Alliance's positive, intellectual sales pitch in favour of harmonization. Ms. Clark's fix might somewhat suppress the anti-HST vote.
But it's important to remember her government is still unpopular with voters, with an earlier Ipsos-Reid poll finding 61 percent disapprove of its overall performance. That means it's possible some British Columbians will still be voting against the HST just to spite the Liberals.
Will Ms. Clark be able to keep the provincial Liberal coalition together?
Arguably, keeping that coalition together was her predecessor Gordon Campbell's greatest achievement. He did so, in part, through the manipulation of fear - fear of a New Democrat government and fear of crossing him. Now that he's retired, conservatives and members of the business community are more concerned than ever about socialist "barbarians" in the Garden City. But are they concerned about the consequences of crossing Ms. Clark, whose hold on government remains tenuous? And, if they're not, what does that mean for the future of the Liberal coalition, which is now facing competition from the resurgent BC Conservatives.
How effective is Ms. Clark's Families First messaging?
That messaging has proven extremely elastic, having so far been successfully used to justify numerous government decisions. Nevertheless, it's still early days in the Clark administration. So will Families First will continue to have the same resonance by the time British Columbians next go to the polls or will it sound increasingly hollow as more and more decisions are squeezed into that box, while contradictory decisions are made.