Top of Mind - August 8, 2011

On Friday, The Globe and Mail's Ian Bailey reported Athana Mentzelopoulos has been hired as Premier Christy Clark's new deputy minister of corporate priorities. But Ms. Mentzelopoulos is so much more than just a former senior federal and provincial bureaucrat.

She's also Ms. Clark's personal friend, having been one of the future premier's bridesmaids. As a result, Ms. Mentzelopoulos's hiring means the first minister will have a new and powerful supporter in the upper echelons of the provincial government. In addition, Ms. Mentzelopoulos has a reputation for being very efficient. So it's expected her presence will bring an increased level of discipline to the West Annex - which has been criticized for appearing somewhat disorganized since Ms. Clark succeeded Gordon Campbell.

Will there or won't there be an election in the fall? The betting presently seems to be against a writ being issued. But here are some additional reasons why Ms. Clark might want to hit the hustings.

For starters, there's a good chance the global economy is going to get worse rather than better. That means whoever is running the province during the next few years will be forced to take responsibility for that economy - and the tough decisions it will necessitate. As a result, it would arguably better to face voters before making those decisions than after. In addition, the longer Ms. Clark waits to go the polls, the longer Conservative leader John Cummins has to build support for his alternative right-wing party. And if she doesn't hit the hustings before November's municipal election, she'll find it more difficult to recruit Liberal candidates from the party's local government farm team.

When high-profile personalities such as Hospital Employees' Union business-secretary Judy Darcy and former British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union president George Heyman announce they're running for the New Democrats, its an indication they think the party has a good chance of forming government. But their candidacies also come with a potential downside for opposition leader Adrian Dix.

Both will reinforce the perception that his party is the party of big labour - something Mr. Dix's predecessor Carole James half-heartedly tried to change. The Liberals have used that perception against the New Democrats in the past. And Ms. Clark will likely do so in the next election - both to rally her troops and, in a way, shame the opposition. But Mr. Dix is more likely than Ms. James to embrace the New Democrats' relationship with the labour movement. So it's unclear whether that shaming will actually work. After all, why be ashamed when the Liberals are the party of big business?


"the party of big labour"

With fewer than a third of workers covered by unions in BC, is there really something that can properly be called "big labour"?

Filling that political trough never ends does it!

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