Opinion Column

B.C. powerbrokers plot Clark demise

BILL TIELEMAN

If you want to make a coalition work you've got to be prepared to put everything on the table.

- former Conservative MP John Reynolds

When backroom B.C. Liberal Party and federal Conservative powerbroker John Reynolds meets Premier Christy Clark this week, only one question will be on his mind:

"What will it take, Madam Premier, to get you to quit your job?"

Of course, Reynolds won't ask that question - not directly anyway - but the answer is driving B.C. Liberals to distraction after two disastrous byelections defeats last week in Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope.

Both previously B.C. Liberal strongholds went New Democrat, stunning Clark.

The party line is that "vote splitting" of the "free enterprise coalition" is the problem, but the reality is Clark has alienated the majority of voters in the two ridings and across the province.

Politics in B.C. is a brutal blood sport, with failure resulting in leadership changes.

And Clark didn't just forfeit two safe seats, she led her party to historic losses.

In Port Moody-Coquitlam, the NDP's Joe Trasolini cleaned up with 54% of the vote - a higher percentage than ex-B.C. Liberal MLA Iain Black took in 2009's provincial election.

Even worse, Gwen O'Mahoney's win in Chilliwack-Hope marks the first time the NDP has ever taken the riding.

That has Reynolds and Philip Hochstein, head of the union-loathing Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, a huge B.C. Liberal donor, very worried.

And while Reynolds publicly backs Clark's leadership, Hochstein doesn't sound very sure.

"If there is no way to have unanimity, then we lose the election. How that comes about and who brings that together, I'm not sure who that is," Hochstein said.

Ironically, Reynolds is co-chairing Clark's June fundraising dinner with Ryan Beedie, both of whom supported Finance Minister Kevin Falcon for leader against Clark.

In that campaign Beedie told business supporters that: "Christy Clark is the candidate who poses the greatest risk to the coalition, and thus the future success of the party."

And Reynolds knifed Clark in the final days, saying her victory would spark a B.C. Conservative Party revival.

That's exactly what happened - and now Reynolds and Beedie are trying to pull the party together under a leader they strongly opposed.

For Christy Clark, with good friends like these behind you, who needs enemies?

Read more Tieleman at www.TheTyee.ca and http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/ Email: weststar@telus.net