Opinion Column

A political tale of two cities: NDP and Liberal meetings couldn’t be more different

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

John Horgan (Wikimedia Commons)

John Horgan (Wikimedia Commons)

“It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” 

― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

VICTORIA - This weekend saw a political tale of two cities: B.C. New Democrats celebrating their government at a convention in Victoria while B.C. Liberal leadership candidates shredded each other at a Prince George debate.

The meetings couldn’t have been more different. Premier John Horgan arrived to a hero’s welcome from 770 NDP delegates who were elated after 16 years of being out of office.

The biggest controversy? Whether to hold conventions annually or every two years.

But up north it was like the Star Wars’ cantina scene – lethal weapons, unpaid political debts to collect and bad blood on the floor.

Dianne Watts, the ex-Conservative MP and Surrey Mayor, came out with guns blazing at ex-B.C. Liberal cabinet ministers, saying they failed the party by agreeing when then-Premier Christy Clark – desperate to hold power – introduced a June throne speech copied from the NDP election platform.

Veteran Andrew Wilkinson said he was shocked – not mentioning he voted for the throne speech anyway.

“It was a rude surprise to us to find that we had adopted a lot of ideas from the NDP and the Greens. It became quickly known as the clone speech,” Wilkinson weakly defended.  “I do not think we should have gone down that path.”

No kidding! And Watts wasn’t done roasting the B.C. Liberals, a party she joined after the May election.

Watts said Clark’s government failed the north after not funding a new hospital in Terrace and a Prince George surgical tower.

"If it's this important....it should have been in the last platform," Watts complained.

But new MLA and candidate Michael Lee returned fire, questioning Watts’ fiscal responsibility over Surrey’s new City Hall project. It was budgeted at $97 million, but ended up costing $138 million.

And the shots continued on Surrey’s rising crime rate under Watts and Wilkinson attacking candidate Mike de Jong for promising to relocate the forests ministry to Prince George when he could have done it 12 years ago as minister.

So Horgan’s NDP have a spring in their step, hoping it lasts four years, while B.C. Liberals must despair at a potentially long and clearly divisive winter in opposition.

 

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