Opinion Column

Dissent in the ranks over Clark

BILL TIELEMAN

If something such as an organization implodes, it is completely destroyed by things that are happening within it.

- Macmillan Dictionary

The B.C. Liberals are starting to implode over dissatisfaction with the job Premier Christy Clark is doing - and their own fear of impending doom.

The evidence became clear last week when backbench MLAs John van Dongen and Randy Hawes - both ex-cabinet ministers - took tough shots at their own government.

Their rebellion was for good reason: the terrible treatment of adults with development disabilities by Community Living B.C., the government agency that's supposed to help them.

The New Democrats told stories of misery caused by the CLBC closing group homes. But Hawes and van Dongen surprisingly backed up their political opponents. "An obvious failure," van Dongen called it.

Behind their complaints were frustrations with Clark finally boiling over in public.

Even BC NDP leader Adrian Dix heard about a tense meeting last Tuesday, saying to Clark in the Legislature: "This isn't like the Liberal caucus where she can say: Shut up, or I'll call the election." Clark denied Dix had it right but the damage was obvious.

The reasons are many. A new Ipsos-Reid poll sees the B.C. Liberals falling seven points to 38 per cent, behind the NDP's 45 per cent despite leading them by two points in May.

That may reflect voters' view that Clark's performance as premier is more of an extended photo opportunity than a demonstration of vision and leadership.

Last week, she hogged credit for B.C.'s Seaspan winning an $8 billion navy shipbuilding contract, stretching her credibility since she was deputy premier in 2004 when the North Vancouver-based company was blocked from bidding to build three new BC Ferries ships.

But there's another reason for rebellion - caucus members are being challenged for their party nominations.

Van Dongen faces a serious threat from Abbotsford Coun. Moe Gill for his Abbotsford South nomination, while West Vancouver MLAs Ralph Sultan and Joan McIntyre are rumoured to be replaced by Pamela Martin, the ex-news anchor and now Clark staffer, and outgoing West Vancouver Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones.

B.C. Liberal MLAs in traditionally safe seats fear the surging strength of the B.C. Conservatives - now at 12 per cent - under leader John Cummins.

Political implosions are incredibly destructive - and they always start from within.

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