Top of Mind - May 30, 2011

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.

2 Comments

a vast number of people are tired of the manipulation. Campbell was a manipulator and finally had to quit. with any luck Ms. Christy won't last long and for starters the HST will be voted out.

Sean, so much to respond to. One of the reasons why I and my wingmen leap to your defense is your natural leadership and mavericky personality. After all, during The Dark Age (5/2009-5/2011) that just ended with Premier Christy Clark, MLA taking Vancouver-Point Gordon Campbell/Point Grey it was the supposed atheist journalism who cared for children in MCFD more than the social conservatives and the socialists... and when the BCNDP scream at you in any way, I just remind them of that. Overall this is going to be a joy and a chore to reply to, so many overreaching concerns.

As to, "Will Ms. Clark be able to keep the provincial Liberal coalition together?" Yes, she will. Just as long as Deputy Premier Kevin Falcon keeps reminding all of us just how manly he is as a team player & innovator. A lesser man - say me - wouldn't have done half the things he's done since the leadership. Of course, with the BCNDP picking a leader who's brand is built on dividing as BCLib Pundit Alise Mills framed Adrian Dix as - it's on YouTube as "Framing Adrian Dix, Thanks to Alise Mills :-)."; I see the BCNDP as those "Barbarians in the Garden City" that will allow Premier Christy Clark, MLA to moderate the BCLib party while getting team play from the conservative side. After all, John Cummins & team seems to have a new strategy to grow the BC Conservatives: Replace the BCNDP.

As to, "How effective is Ms. Clark's Families First messaging?" It's not elastic as much as packaging for what in baseball is called "small ball". Politically translated: Make a bunch of small to mid-size changes and move forward incrementally instead of make Gordon Campbell-esque big sweeps & changes that apparently you seem to want. Her idea is to slowly grow the majority and moderate the BCLibs to win election after election and turn the BCNDP into irrelevant, greedy screamers & whiny barbarians. Or something like that.

Again, Sean, great stuff. I just hope you realize this Premier is not into the long ball or the "Hail Mary" Polak-esque maneuvering.

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