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December 16, 2011

Premier Clark's Year in Review

In December 2010 no one would have guessed that the NDP would stop bickering and unite under the leadership of Adrian Dix, or that Christy Clark would emerge as Premier but struggle to identify issues that might let her be elected to that high office.

In her yearend interview with CTV, Premier Clark said: "I knew there'd be a lot of surprises along the way that I didn't make but that I was responsible for cleaning up." Clark shouldn't be allowed to put Community Living BC in that category since in 2005 she was the Minister responsible for introducing the legislation that set up the agency. She also has a history that ties her to the BC Rail corruption case and she must now take responsibility for failing to initiate a public inquiry on why a $6 million deal was cut for two Liberal insiders who pleaded guilty. It is fair for her to classify the HST as a mess left by Gordon Campbell, a mess that may have destroyed the Liberal brand and made it impossible for Clark to convince some former Liberal voters to ever again trust her government.

In her yearend YouTube video, Clark said: “When I got elected Premier …” Of course she meant elected leader of the BC Liberal party which made her Premier. Who is elected Premier will be determined in May 2013. Watch the video, and if you aren't distracted by the loud background music that plays throughout her presentation, you'll hear her say: "rebuilding public trust is a big part of what we’ve been workin' at". Clark has a laundry list she will have to deal with before also confronting unexpected events that might hijack the government's agenda, as frequently happens.

Dix ends the year emerging from an NDP convention that celebrated the party's 50th anniversary. Many delegates appeared confident that an NDP government is likely in 2013. I've lost count of how many elections I won before voting day, only to be disappointed when votes were counted. Over the next 17 months, both Dix and Clark will be called on to respond to surprises that no one can fully anticipate. Their ability to deal with the unexpected may have a bigger influence on voter intention than anything that colours the political landscape at the end of 2011. Will the economy pick up or take a nosedive? It is early days since Clark announced her jobs plan, but over the next 18 months economists and political pundits will keep an eye on how BC compares to other provinces on job creation. Voters may decide that other issues, like whether they can trust the Liberals, form the ballot box question 17 months from now.