Opinion Column

Clark’s media savvy will win her the election

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

B.C. Premier Christy Clark

B.C. Premier Christy Clark Reuters

Much ado has been made about Christy Clark’s encounter with Linda Higgins in a North Vancouver grocery store last week.

Higgins shook Clark’s hand and said – “I would never vote for you.”

“You don’t have to,” Clark replied with a smile, “that’s why we live in a democracy.”

Clark was quickly criticized for shrugging off a potential voter, but she handled the follow-up media questions with her characteristic composed and cheerful style. You could hear the smile in her voice on the radio as she skillfully addressed the Higgins question and moved the conversation on to another topic. She was funny, real, and relatable in a way that evoked affinity among readers and listeners. If Higgins was an NDP plant, the plan sure backfired.

As a former talk show host, you can tell by the way Clark jokes with journalists and the ease in her voice that she enjoys being on air. By contrast, both John Horgan and Andrew Weaver seem to struggle through interviews and you can almost sense the relief when it’s over (in Horgan’s case you can actually hear it). They lack Clark’s polish and again, policies aside, their media presence is lacking.

Whether you like her policies and record or not, her conversational ease with the media makes her likable. Clark ranks as the fourth most popular premier in a March Angus Reid Institute poll and I’d be willing to bet the Higgins incident last week gave her a boost. With just days to go until British Columbians cast their votes and many having already done so at advance polls, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The encounter took attention away from attacks on Clark’s record and made opponents seem petty when they brought it up. It showcased Clark’s ability to own and master a story and by that measure, she leaves her challengers in the dust.

Media matters – we saw it in the last federal election with Justin Trudeau and in a kind of backwards way with Donald Trump as well. There’s a cliché in politics that people often vote for the person they’d like to have a beer with and through Clark’s mastery of the media, she is making that case for herself very well. I’d be willing to wager it’s what will win her the election.