Tuesday, April 07, 2009

BC Conservatives and leader Wilf Hanni putting a scare into Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals in May 12 election

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday April 7, 2009

Conservatives could trouble B.C. Libs

By BILL TIELEMAN

I don't think it would be wise to ignore the impact of a potential split in the free enterprise vote, the centre-right vote.

- Mike De Jong, B.C. Liberal House Leader

The fate of Premier Gordon Campbell's B.C. Liberal government in the May 12 election may rest in the hands of an oil and gas drilling rig supervisor from Cranbrook.

And Campbell should be very worried, since that man is Wilf Hanni, leader of the B.C. Conservative Party, who intends to run up to 30 candidates.

In an Angus Reid Strategies poll released last month, the B.C. Conservatives were included for the first time as a party choice - and picked up four per cent province-wide, with five per cent support in the north and Vancouver Island and seven per cent in the Fraser Valley/southern interior.

And with the New Democrats just six points behind, B.C. Conservative candidates could help defeat Campbell.

But De Jong's vote-splitting arguments don't bother Hanni, who believes his party can win enough seats to hold the balance of power in a minority government because conservative voters are fed up with Campbell.

"The B.C. Liberals have become a big, left-wing, tax-and-spend government," Hanni told me in a lengthy interview. "If the Liberals ever were conservative, they sure aren't any more. The B.C. Conservatives are the only party that advocates lower taxes and smaller government."

"The Liberal Party is going into the election saying the number one issue is the economy but what have they done to rebuild the economy? Nothing!" Hanni says.

Hanni is campaigning against B.C. Liberal plans for a Recognition and Reconciliation Act that would recognize aboriginal rights and title without proof of claim.

"We're the only party in B.C. opposing the Recognition Act. We really believe all B.C.ers should be treated equally," Hanni said. "We can't take the risk of giving up title to all public and private land. Title is title - there is no such category as aboriginal title."

And Hanni disagrees with Campbell's carbon tax on gasoline and heating fuels, which goes up again in July.

"We would scrap the carbon tax totally," he said. "The carbon tax is an unfair tax, it's a wealth-transfer tax. It takes money particularly out of people's pockets in the interior and the north.

"You can't take public transit and you can't drive a Prius [hybrid car] like the premier - you won't get anywhere. And you can't turn off the furnace when it's minus 30C in Fort Nelson," Hanni laughs.

Hanni says his big challenge now is to convince TV networks to include him in B.C. election debates. If he does, Campbell will worry even more.

The Tyee.ca is running a longer version of this column online. Here is the rest of that version.

That's because Hanni is an affable conservative who is anything but doctrinaire right wing. Hanni opposes the B.C. Liberal's privatization of B.C. Hydro, the promotion of private power projects on provincial rivers and streams by banning B.C. Hydro from also doing so and the export of raw logs.

"We would not privatize B.C. Hydro without public approval through a referendum and we would not initiate that referendum, Hanni told me. "We would also end the prohibition on B.C. Hydro being banned from new power projects."

And on raw log exports: "I'd prefer to process the logs in B.C. – this government has done absolutely nothing to develop the forest industry in B.C. We have millions of tons of dead timber in our forests that we should be using for biodiesel, ethanol and wood pellets for fuel."

Slamming Railgate

And if that's not enough to differentiate the party, Hanni also raises the B.C. Legislature raid case, connected to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail.
"The Liberals also appear to be ethically challenged, as we're finding out in the Railgate case," he says.

That's why Hanni confidently predicts that his B.C. Conservatives will defeat B.C. Liberals in some parts of the province.

"In some ridings in the Interior even some B.C. Liberal incumbents are going to come in third place behind the Conservatives and NDP – and a vote for the Liberals will split the vote," he says.

"The number one argument the B.C. Liberals and Gordon Campbell will use is 'don't vote Conservative – you'll split the vote," Hanni says. "Well, if you had a job vacancy and someone came to you and said: 'Hire me so you want have to hire that other guy' – is that a good argument? No."

Counting on Campbell's negatives

Hanni knows and counts on Campbell being disliked in much of the province. The Angus Reid Strategies poll shows that when asked, only 34 per cent of respondents felt Gordon Campbell should be re-elected, while 54 per cent said it was time for B.C. to have a new premier.

But it may be the B.C. Liberals' Recognition and Reconciliation Act that pushes the most buttons with rural voters in the election. Hanni says that with the B.C. Liberals introducing the act and the NDP likely to support it, only B.C. Conservatives will oppose it.

"We agree with signing treaties with aboriginals but treaties should involve cash payments by the federal government, who are responsible," he says with a view that isn't often heard or widely accepted in land claims discussions.

"With the giveaway of our rivers to foreign interests and the giveaway of our land to aboriginals, the B.C. Liberals have done serious damage to our province," Hanni says.

Fourteen candidates lined up

The B.C. Conservative Party first formed a provincial government in 1903 but has not had an elected member since 1977.
Hanni aims to change that, with 14 candidates nominated to date and more to come.

"We will accept applications to be candidates right up to the deadline. We expect to run 20 to 30 candidates but we will accept more if they come forward – we encourage people to apply," Hanni says.

And with people like popular former federal Reform Party MP Darrel Stinson coming forward to manage local campaigns and other former Reform and Conservatives running as candidates, maybe Hanni has some reasonable grounds for optimism.

Related Tyee stories:

BC Conservative Party rolls out platform, candidates
Carbon Tax Screws BC's North? Finance Minister Taylor defends its fairness, rural or not.

Why the NDP Has a Shot BC Liberals hold more safe seats, but 'green suburban swingers' could lift New Dems into power

A shorter version of this column was printed in 24 Hours newspaper today. Bill Tieleman is a 24 Hours columnist and regular Tyee contributor.

15 comments:

Grumpy said...

I'll wager some strong Conservative candidates will also draw from the NDP support - South Delta is a good scenario for this.

A lot and I repeat, a lot of NDP supporters of the NDP are tired of James and her incompetent leadership of the NDP. These people will not vote Liberal, but to send a message to both the NDP and Liberal party will vote Conservative! Same reason why many people vote Green.

Sorry Bill, call it the Carole James syndrome, but I just can't vote for her.

Anonymous said...

there's no way an NDP supporter would vote consevative. They are diametricelly opposite ideologies. Conservatives. THey have nothing in common to bring voters over.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill T.......

Besides Gordon Campbell being on a full blown deficit spending campaign which will annoy Conservatives......
And also, RUN of RIVER(pirate power)no matter what political stripe you are,ROR upsets many Liberals,and the Indian recognition act will be a huge issue.
The goal of that act is to bypass community input,in other words if First nations come to financial arrangement with Plutonic power(GE big American conglomerate)then all BCers are out of the equation.
And with the Greens pushing for legalized drugs!......
Well that will offend many,and the fact that 79% of all voters believe Gordon Campbell is NOT HONEST or TRUSTWORTHY......
And that is after 8 years,if you don`t trust a man after 8 years,you never will.
I expect Wilf Hanni`s party to do real well in the interior and the fraser valley,a big cloud under John Les,and Langley right twisted with the Liberals.
For argument sake, lets say the spread in this election is similar to the last election,well in 2005 2000 votes was the diffrence in a combined 11 ridings,if 2000 votes went the other way,the NDP would be goverment today.
Add Wilf Hanni`s Conservative label,which may turn on Harper Voters/especially the political naive(which is the majority)
And as for the mis-conception that Harper voters are Campbell voters,that is partialy false,I and 4 other family members voted for Harper and we detest Campbell and vote NDP provincially/I wouldn`t vote Harper again,but my parents still like Harper but detest Campbell.......
We just couldn`t bring ourselves to vote for MR. Priority(Dion)and we have never voted for NDP federaly.
Bill T--We need to make sure Wilf Hanni is in the televised debates,flex your muscle BILL(the one between your ears) and make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Sadly many real-world NDPers may just sit this one out, just like tens of thousands of Federal Liberals did when the party ran leader-losers like Martin & Dion.

The GREAT SATAN

DPL said...

It's very difficult to go along with James and her rather scatterbrain position on Indian issues. She messed up on the Tsawassen Treaty scam developed by Gordo.Taking ALR land and making it a parking lot.

So what to do? Voting Liberal means more wholesale selling of BC's resources. Vote Green and throw away your vote. Vote Conservative and hopefully it would drain off some Liberal support ,or remember that James is not the soul of the NDP,just the person who somehow got to be the MLA for Victoria Beacon Hill. Vote your NDP candidate and drop Gordo from absolute power.I can think of a few NDP MLA's that could easily replace her. James is probrably a nice person but ... She has done some heavy duty backtracking on a number of issues. One being going against a long held NDP position on ALR and their treaty position on the same subject. Some of the NDP MLA's simply wouldn't go along with her on that one. She was made too look a fool by Gordo on that issue, not counting backtracking on pensions and pay raises. With the new restructuring she is no longer my MLA so I'm not stuck to vote for her or the other weak options. People don't vote for people, they vote against people and the one to vote against is King Gordo, or get ready for more expensive deals.

Think for a minute Grumpy, are you in her riding? if not you arn't voting for her you are voting for a party.The party is bigger than one MLA who seems to have lost her way.

Anonymous said...

Money, money, money. Sad, but true - success and failure in politics often (always?) comes down to how much money you have and how you deploy it. How much cash do the BC conservatives have?

Canwest's Les Leyne and Michael Smyth wrote about party fund raising today, but neither mentioned the BC Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

A horse, when he dreams, dreams of shallots.

Bill, can't you think of anything better than this "Conservative" thing?

BTW, private ROR hydro generate power at about half the cost of BC Hydro. So its best for the ratepayer to go with IPPs.

Patiently Waiting said...

I used to volunteer for the NDP. In fact, as I write this, I'm avoiding calls from an old friend of mine who wants me to help again.

Not this time, I can't be bothered. I'm just tired of how union-dominated the NDP is and how stale their policies are. Affirmative action? Come on, can't we leave that in the dark ages?

I won't vote Conservative, but I could see some rural NDPers doing so. Most people aren't ideological. Myself, I'm going Green this election.

Anonymous said...

The single overriding issue come May 12 is getting rid of the Campbell government. The Liberals are either giving away BC or dismantling it.
Close on its heels is issue #2 - ethics and accountability. Sub-headings are all the others. BC Rail, the cozy trough at Partnerships BC, Convention Centre, Children & Families, Seniors, unelected boards, the Recognition Act, Forestry, Mining. Too many to count. More than ever before, if BCers want anything left, they need to vote strategically in Delta it might be the Independent, somewhere else the NDP, and other places the Conservatives. Whatever it takes.

A. G. Tsakumis said...

The BC Tories will have an impact, but only if they target their participation. Otherwise, the Greens, on the other side, may cancel some of that out.

The bottom line is: Will the disaffected Liberal voter (like me) get to the ballot box and vote for Gordon Campbell?

If they cannot get back at least half of those supporters, incompetent as her people are, and as uninspiring as she is, say hello to Premier James.

DPL said...

Gordo is handing out money at an alarming rate on the Island. He might be a bit concered because he has ignored the area for years. Ida Chong is showing up as is Murrey Cole at lots of events. Two ridings they arn't too convinced they will win. The Nanaimo area is getting big bucks as well.Gordo would like to keep those ridings for sure. So if the Conservatives are running, those might be good paces to look. My new MLA suits me just fine

Anonymous said...

It seems that the 'Big Bad Wilf' will not be invited to debate the NDP, Greens and BC Liberals on May 3... another Canwest win.

Anonymous said...

Vote splitting was a factor in the Barrett victory in 1972. However, Dave skilfully coloured the Socreds as arrogant and out of touch. James should be doing that. Instead, she is echoing the Lib' nominal anti-crime policies.

Those who think bi-partisanship on organized crime is warranted, need to add up the receipts of the $70,000,000 spent on the BC Integrated Gang Task Force and Violence Suppression Teams, since 2004. Police services haven't prevented a single gang hit, and the couple of charges against gang members are dependent on convincing juries to believe leveraged witnesses. Canwest-media's daily imagery of aggressive policing is nothing but a cartoon. The Libs could have been really hurt by the BCIGTF fiasco, but that opportunity has been lost by the NDP's decision to echo failed Lib' policies. If the party doesn't give voters a choice, then they will keep the status quo.

Let me say this of the Lib government: they are malfeasants, and should be referred to as malfeasants.

Gazetteer said...

Fair enough DPL (anon @ 10:31)

Thanks for the alternative suggestions....


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Dirk Buchholz said...

..."and the giveaway of our land to aboriginals, the B.C. Liberals have done serious damage to our province," Hanni says"....

yeah okay,what a moronic thing to say.Damn them "aboriginals" how dare they take OUR land