Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Despite Recent Rough Patch, BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark Firmly in Control

BC Premier Christy Clark - Kris Krug photo
Clark crazy like a fox - these aren't the moves of a mistake-prone government.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column 

Tuesday March 31, 2015

By Bill Tieleman

"No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution." 

Premier Christy Clark might appear to be having a rough time in B.C. politics -- but to conclude that she is in trouble would be a mistaken misread of her intentions.

Clark is indeed Canada's second most unpopular premier, according to an Angus Reid Institute poll taken before the last week's further damage, with just 33 per cent approving of her performance.

Since then, Clark surprisingly killed the appointment of former BC Liberal cabinet minister George Abbott as the new head of the B.C. Treaty Commission at the very last minute, alienating First Nations, angering the BC NDP opposition and even appalling BC Liberal friends of Abbott, of whom there are many.

But so what? Clark has no investment in the treaty process, no strong interest in reaching agreements and wanted to send First Nations a clear message that she is not happy with some of their members delaying resource projects.

What better way to do so than firing Abbott -- who opposed Clark for leader -- in public?

Whether the B.C. Treaty Commission is radically altered or even terminated won't determine the fate of the next provincial election, which is Clark's only motivation.

Public hanging was also used this month for the now-former impose standards for teachers' professional development introduced without even bothering to consult the BCTF.

That came after Education Minister Peter Fassbender appointed an auditor to look into the books of another adversary -- the Vancouver School Board -- and following a new order for all school boards to chop $54 million in administrative costs in the next two years.

Why should the BC Liberals care that trustees are elected to run schools? Or that Vancouver's school board had already hired its own private accounting firm to help find ways to save money?

BCTF president Jim Iker is one of those not fooled.

"This pro-development day legislation is a red herring to put a focus on us and away from government," said in an interview with 24 Hours Vancouver on Wednesday. "This is a diversion from underfunding."


B.C. liquor law changes that have infuriated the industry are part of the same approach of hiding your intent by causing controversy in another area.

The BC Liberals either consult but then ignore or just don't consult at all -- and do what they always intended.

As Iker says: "We know the record of this government on consultation and we have to be wary of that."

It's why the BCTF -- and First Nations -- are more intent on winning in the courts than reaching agreement with the BC Liberals. 

And Clark knows that.

So those who think this is a mistake-prone government on the ropes with neither a plan nor a process to get there are missing all the signs.



scotty on denman said...

I guess it's a matter of whether it would be a mistake for the BC Liberals to lose the next election or not.

Anonymous said...

Depends on how well the NDP is. They're starting to come around, but have a long way to go yet. If they manage to come up with things people want (not what the BCTF, UNIFOR, the BCGEU and BCFED want), they actually may have something to offer.

Right now, I wouldn't bet a Happy Meal on it.

scotty on denman said...

It's getting to be an old canard that the NDP is run by trade unions. To be fair, the NDP wants what most Canadians want: free collective bargaining for labour unions, and decent working conditions for all, but the implication that the NDP somehow actually bargains for unions never was true. Indeed, the objectives of governing and labour contract negotiating have frequently seen the NDP pitted against one or another government employee union, and sometimes against them all, as when labour withdrew its support of Dave Barrett's single-term government because he had the temerity to order a cooling-off period when several concurrent strikes were threatening food supply to the Island. And since then the labour faction as been considerably diluted with changes to guaranteed delegations at policy and party conventions, and one-member-one-vote, among other things.

The main thing the NDP has to offer is honest government, and from that, better services for everyone.

The thing that neo-right chauvinists will never be able to explain is how the disadvantages to labor unions implemented by the BC Liberals, have failed to improve upon the NDP economic record, despite the fact that during the decade-plus following the NDP decade witnessed global boom times whilst the NDP faced serious global recession but never resorted to selling off or bankrupting public institutions to cook the books like the BC Liberals have been doing all along. In fact the BC Liberal performance has been much poorer, and the debt accumulation eye-poppingly higher.

BC Liberals are economic charlatans and much of it is hung upon that old canard that the NDP does what unions tell it to. To the extent that voters have believed it, BC has suffered.