Opinion Column

Clark campaign never looked back


Live out of your imagination, not your history.

- Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

Premier-designate Christy Clark executed a shocking win in the B.C. Liberal leadership vote Saturday. It's shocking because her narrow third ballot win over Kevin Falcon came against the wishes of the B.C. Liberal cabinet and caucus, the business community and most of the party establishment - despite her connection to the province's biggest political scandal.

None of it made a tinker's damn of difference - Clark simply ignored her history and captured B.C. Liberal voters' ballots with her imagination.

There are lessons here for anyone in politics. There are also big warnings in Clark's victory for the opposition B.C. New Democrats and the upstart B.C. Conservatives, both of which see significant opportunities.

Beware, because Clark' victory illustrates the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Liberal Leaders" like Covey's book demonstrated universal truths. Those principles are:

Ignore B.C. Liberal cabinet ministers and MLAs - they are nobodies. If they weren't, either Falcon or George Abbott - who split the support of caucus between them in the contest - would be premier-designate today.

Falcon had every major cabinet member on his side and Abbott had the rest of the cabinet and many from caucus. Clark had one lonely backbencher MLA, Harry Bloy.

Scandals mean jack squat. Clark's family and political connections to the B.C. legislature raid trial that found ex-B.C. Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk guilty of breach of trust and fraud didn't sink her candidacy.

Big business doesn't matter. If its support made any difference, Falcon would be the incoming premier; he cornered a phenomenal amount of corporate backing and the most money of any candidate. His vaunted "20/20" business fans, including top B.C. big shots, tried their best but put up a runner-up finisher.

Media does matter. Clark's enormous advantage was in having enjoyed a four-year, province-wide radio show platform on CKNW to not only reach a huge audience, but also to carefully hone her populist message with instant feedback.

Loyalty is highly overrated. Clark abandoned Premier Gordon Campbell's Liberals and never looked back - until the premiership was available.

Outsiders are appealing. B.C. Liberals and voters wanted an "outsider" to replace Campbell, even if Clark is a consummate insider who served as his deputy premier.

Insiders are essential. Clark had the ultimate B.C. Liberal insider, Patrick Kinsella, on her campaign team and donating money - exactly the same as he did for Gordon Campbell for years.

Now the challenge for Clark is to further overcome her own and B.C's political history - and become the first woman elected premier. Imagine that.

Read more from Bill Tieleman at thetyee.ca Email: weststar@telus.net Website: billtieleman.blogspot.com