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January 6, 2011

Serious NDP Candidates Needed

By the time Mike Farnworth, Adrian Dix and/or John Horgan get around to launching their leadership campaigns the prize may be worthless. On the BC Liberal side, polarizing candidates, infighting and a disengaged public may offer a glimmer of hope for the NDP, but there is also hope for any new party as the menagerie of Dana Larsen, Nicholas Simons and Harry Lali makes one ask why anyone would want to lead the New Democrats. It may be necessary to renew the party through a series of contested nomination fights before the next election.

Christy Clark is showing that she can be as polarizing as Kevin Falcon. In the Globe & Mail, Justine Hunter reported Clark said: "It's one thing to say, 'Gee. I oppose the way it was done,' but c'mon where were you a year ago when that comment might have been useful." Clark was responding to George Abbott's promise to have an independent third party look into the deal to cover $6-million in legal bills for the defense in the BC Rail corruption trial, but she could have been speaking about many other government decisions since she bailed-out in 2005. No wonder Clark has been endorsed by only one member of the BC Liberal caucus!

It is possible that what amuses political pundits has turned off the public. If Angus Reid Public Opinion keeps to its recent polling schedule, by mid-January we should be treated to a new glimpse at public opinion about BC politics. It's online survey of 806 randomly selected BC adults, conducted between December 20 and 21, found the BC Liberals and NDP tied at 38 per cent. Contrary to a pro-Liberal gender gap reported by the Mustel Group, Angus Reid found that among women voting intention was 40 per cent NDP, 34 per cent BC Liberal. When asked which party would you support regardless of leadership, the numbers were reduced to 17 per cent BC Liberal, 14 per cent NDP. Those low numbers indicate trouble for both parties.

Vaughn Palmer reported that Elections BC is gearing up for the possibility of an early election; of course, that could just be preparation for a vote on the HST. It would take a real gambler to roll the dice when the public seems upset with both parties. The Liberals would be risking over two years for certain against the prospect of four more years if they won. Unless they can poll consistently in the high 40s, they would be well advised to let the public take time to get reacquainted with both parties and their new leaders.

The Liberals need time to regain trust with the public. The NDP needs time to clean house.