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April 11, 2011

Can Christy Build Trust

"When it comes to restoring public trust, actions speak louder than words.”
Premier Christy Clark in TV ad

Christy's TV ad is particularly important in view of what George Abbott said during the BC Liberal leadership campaign; he argued it would take until May 2013 for the Liberals to try to restore the trust they lost since betraying the public with the surprise post-election HST announcement.

Consider Christy's initial actions:

Clark's actions speak louder than words to show why changing the leader isn't enough to restore public trust in the Liberals. If they get away with deceiving the public about the HST, what surprise will be in store if they win the next election?

Sometime around the middle of the second period in the Canucks vs. Hawks game next Sunday, the new leader of the NDP will be elected. A few hockey fans waiting for the game might check out the results of the first ballot in the NDP leadership race. Will any candidate get at least 38%, what Christy Clark got in the first of three rounds of voting in the BC Liberal leadership race? How close will Farnworth, Dix and Horgan be on the first ballot, and will Dana Larsen have enough support so the second preferences of his voters might matter on the second ballot?

If Ipsos-Reid is correct, there aren't many paying attention to the NDP leadership race. After all, we'll all see the results in the news on Monday. What matters is what happens next. How will the new NDP leader do against Christ Clark? Has Clark wiped the slate clean enough that she is viewed as change, or does real change require a change of governing party? The 45 year old Clark spent 9 years as an MLA, more time, than in any other job in her life, yet she had the gall to call John Cummins, first elected at age 51, a “career politician”.

In order to gain a seat in the legislature, Christy is expected to call a by-election for late May in Gordon Campbell's former riding of Vancouver-Point Grey. In 2009 Campbell won the seat with 50% of votes cast, 28% of registered voters. Christy will be campaigning at a time when ballots for the HST referendum have yet to be mailed out. She's expected to win, but it could be a Pyrrhic victory if she doesn't do as well as Campbell did in 2009. If Christy Clark fails to regain the public's trust, she will follow in the steps of Rita Johnston, appointed but never elected premier.

The legislature has been called for April 27th with the adjournment date set for June 2nd; that means the Clark government has already planned to use closure to force approval of its spending plans – not the way to restore trust and help her credibility. Remember "not a dime without debate".