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This is the end for B.C. Liberals faint hope of power as Plecas pulls the plug

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

BC Liberal Darryl Plecas. (Mark Yuen/Vancouver Sun)

BC Liberal Darryl Plecas. (Mark Yuen/Vancouver Sun)

"This is the end/My only friend, the end/Of our elaborate plans, the end.” - The Doors, The End

The dramatic decision of Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas to become speaker of the B.C. Legislature against B.C. Liberal Party orders is far more than a story of either betrayal or rebellion.

Plecas’ move signals the end of the B.C. Liberals’ faint hope clause – their elaborate plans to somehow defeat the New Democrats in the Legislature and then again in a snap election to return triumphantly to government.

Instead, Plecas going to speaker likely means Premier John Horgan will hold that title for a full four years.

And the B.C. Liberals’ extreme anger is far more about losing power indefinitely after 16 years of arrogantly ruling the province than it is about Plecas’ rejecting their threats.

It’s an end to their entitlement but it’s also an end to many veteran B.C. Liberal cabinet ministers’ political careers – because several are likely to resign rather than face four long years in opposition just to have another chance at winning back government.

Think about it: you were once an all-powerful cabinet minister, with staff fulfilling your orders, an entire ministry responding to you, and extra $37,000 to $53,000 a year in salary and a significant increase in your pension, the term “honourable” the title before your name, the ability to influence public policy, the prestige, the car – it’s a heady and seductive job.

And then, you face the oblivion of opposition with no time limit in sight to get back to the cabinet land of milk and honey.

If you are Mike de Jong – Abbotsford West B.C. Liberal MLA with 23 years in elected office and having been minister of finance, health, attorney general and more during those 16 years in power, why stick around? Others will have similar thoughts.

Even interim B.C. Liberal leader Rich Coleman, elected in 1996 and a former deputy premier, has to be thinking of an exit strategy.

In the end, more veteran B.C. Liberals MLAs will likely abandon ship and more by-elections will further increase the B.C. NDP’s safety margin and ensure at least a four-year term in office.

After all, it’s easier to pummel Plecas than face the music when “The End” is the only song playing.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Twitter: @BillTieleman