You would think that nothing could be closer to manna from heaven for an opposition party than to discover that an "independent commission" appointed to deal with a highly controversial issue had published its final report without consulting one of its three members.
You would guess that with two of the three members of the Commission changing previously agreed-upon conclusions and emailing the final version to the third member while she was in Europe and unable to respond would be "get up on your hind legs in Question Period and howl" material.
But when it comes to the Independent Commission to Review MLA Compensation and when it comes to the BC NDP opposition you would be dead wrong.
After my 24 hours colleague Sean Holman, also of Public Eye Online, broke this major story Thursday morning with an exclusive interview with dissenting commissioner Sandra Robinson, I assumed this would be Job #1 in Thursday's Legislative Question Period.
But no, not a single word. Nor a single news release. Nor a single media interview.
To be abundantly clear - Robinson blew the whistle on her colleagues, Commission chair Sue Paish, a QC lawyer, and Josiah Wood, a QC lawyer and former Appeal Court justice.
Here's part of what Robinson said in the Public Eye/24 hours story:
"There's quite a few," disagreements said Robinson, But "the biggest area of disagreement would have been on the pension - both the type and the actual size of the pension."
"But we negotiated out a set of recommendations and signed-off on those. And, then, it was only after I was in Europe that they changed their minds and came up with a different set" of recommendations. "So, yeah, to be completely left out - to have no influence on the outcome - was certainly frustrating."
Prof. Robinson said she was "just told - via email - they would be doing that."
So the BC Liberal government put out the report calling for a massive 29% pay raise and a pension worth 37% of an MLA's salary and a 53% raise for Premier Gordon Campbell, and on, and on - and never once mentioned that the report had been changed without the consent of one of the three commissioners?
That the dissenting commissioner had been "completely left out"?
And NDP MLAs don't raise this shocking situation in the Legislature?
What's more, according to my sources, NDP MLAs also refused several opportunities to comment on the story in the media?
And if one were to go to the BC NDP caucus website, not only will you not see any news releases on the issue of the Commission report being altered without the approval of the dissident commissioner, you won't find a single comment on the entire issue of MLA pay and pension.
UPDATE - My error - there is a news release dated May 4, 2007 stating that the NDP Caucus had rejected the pay and pension package. It is not on the main page of the website but is listed chronologically within the "news releases" section - my apologies for missing it. MLA Harry Lali's apology for saying he would vote for the package is also on the website but not easily found.
This dispite the fact the NDP Leader Carole James has strongly and correctly condemned the pay and pension package and said the NDP caucus will not support it.
I don't know why. I don't have any idea why the NDP is not making a stink about this.
Even if the NDP wholeheartedly supported the pay and pension package - which it actually opposes - a vigorous opposition would still condemn the government and the Commission for effectively silencing one of its members.
And if you oppose the package - which the NDP does - why would you not drive this issue of the Commission's tainted report so as to force the BC Liberals to drop the entire proposal, kill it dead?
Where is the public campaign to drop the pay raises? Where are the newspaper and radio ads? Where are the town hall meetings?
Doesn't anyone in the NDP realize this is a total political gift? It's possible an aggressive opposition could reverse its fortunes and actually win an election on such a populist issue that appeals not only to its lower-income base but actually crosses BC's traditional political cleavages?
Polling by Ipsos-Reid showed 67% opposed the big pay raises, with a whopping 48% "strongly opposed.
And yet, nothing.
There are several reasons why the BC NDP is behind the BC Liberals by a margin of 16 percentage points - 51% Liberal to 36% NDP according to the Mustel Group poll released May 10, confirming an earlier Ipsos-Reid poll with similar numbers.
But one of the most important has to be a failure to go for the jugular of the Gordon Campbell Liberals when they make a big mistake.
And with the BC Liberals benefiting from a strong economy and with Campbell changing his right wing spots faster than a painted leopard in a car wash to capture middle of the road voters, the NDP can't miss any opportunity to capitalize on Liberal errors.
Instead, it seems far too often to be content with waving from the sidelines as the parade goes by.